Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I seem to be on a roll with seafood dishes, particularly soups.  Tonight, I think I have outdone myself!
Ah, bouillabaisse.  It is such a wonderful, healthy soup.  It has its origins in Marseilles, France.  The basic idea is a combination of several types of seafood, along with vegetables, and whatever else strikes your fancy.

If you do not eat meat, simply leave out the bacon.  This is a fish "stew":  you can add whatever you think will add to it!

My ingredients:
8 oz fresh sea bass, cut into 3/4 to 1 inch cubes
8 oz. raw shrimp, shelled
1 pound fresh mussels, washed and de-bearded (any combination of fresh seafood may be used)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, sliced into segments
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 of one large fennel bulb, chopped
one zuchini squash, cut into thin quartered pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
20 basil leaves thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
saffron, one pinch
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon herbs de provence
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 quart seafood stock (chicken or vegetable stock may be substituted)
2 "cubes" chicken stock
2-3 slices of Speck (German bacon, regular bacon may be substituted) cut into 1/2 inch bits (this is optional)
ham bone for flavor (optional)
3-4 strips of lemon zest
2-3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil

In a heated stockpot, add oil.  Cook bacon or speck until crisp.  Add onions and sweat until translucent.
Add fennel and sweat until it is tender and somewhat translucent.  Add the zuchini and cook until soft. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly soft.  Add basil, parsley, and saffron.  Add stock and bring to a simmer.  Add dried herbs and turmeric.
Once soup is quite warm, but avoiding bringing the mixture to a boil, gradually add seafood.  The seafood is fully cooked when it has become opaque, and the mussels should fully open when cooked.  Check to be sure all the mussels have opened up.  If not, remove any mussels that remain closed.
This soup can be served immediately, or chilled rapidly and stored in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Reheat to simmer and serve.


The speck is added after the oil becomes hot

Onions are added

The fennel...



here are the 3 frozen soup stocks I added 
(my chicken stock in the foreground, which is much more concentrated than the others)

Adding the stock will (obviously) cool down the ingredients.
Allow time for everything to come back to a simmer prior to adding the seafood!

While stock is melting, I added a couple of bay leaves and the other seasonings

I chose to add several strips of lemon zest to counter-balance the "fishy" aroma of the stock.
It worked!

A splash of white wine.  Just because.

Sea bass and shrimps were added.

See how they became opaque?

Mussels were gradually added.

These were removed because they failed to open

See how wide open the mussels are now?
I put an empty bowl on the table for the mussel shells.

Served with an arugula salad with a fresh vinaigrette, sliced almonds, and fresh blackberries.

Here are the emptied mussel shells