The Lady's Bouillabaisse

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 40 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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1 pound mussels

2 pounds firm fresh fish fillets, such as grouper or striped bass

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

3/4 cups chopped onions

5 Roma tomatoes, peeled and sliced, or 1 cup canned Italian tomatoes

1 teaspoon fennel seed

Pinch saffron

1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter plus more, for the bread and plating

2 1/2 cups boiling water

1/2 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

4 crab halves, cut in 1/2

1 pound unpeeled shrimp

1 loaf French bread


  1. Wash and scrub the mussels in cold water.
  2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large heavy pot. Add the mussels and cover the pot.* Steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mussels open. Discard any mussels that didn't open. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Cut the fish into 1-inch thick slices.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, fennel, saffron, salt, and pepper. Add the mussel broth to the pot and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the boiling water and clam juice. Bring to a rolling boil, add the crabs and fish, and continue to boil for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mussels along with the shrimp, and boil for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the French bread, butter it, and toast lightly. Serve the bouillabaisse in large individual bowls lined with toasted French bread; pile in the seafood and ladle the broth over it. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of butter. Pass the remaining bread at the table.

Cook’s Note

If you like a spicier soup you may add a couple of whole hot peppers to the pot at the start of cooking.