Bouillabaisse de Marseilles – A Tale of Two Soups

Marseilles, France

The most famous fish stew of the Mediterranean is bouillabaisse, and its home is considered to be Marseilles, France. Marseilles is located on the southeast coast of France in the Provence region. This is the second-largest city in the country and is the oldest city in France. Marseilles, due to its coastal position along the Mediterranean Sea has also made it France’s largest commercial port.

Bouillabaisse is made up of many typical ingredients of the Mediterranean: fresh seafood, olive oil, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, orange, and saffron.  A good Bouillabaisse can produce a cult-like following for a bistro.  It is an absolutely delicious and flavorful way to showcase the coastal fish that swim in the rocky outlying areas off the coast of the Provence region. Traditionally, all fish used in this recipe will be caught, cooked, and served all on the same day!

One factor that all bouillabaisse lovers will agree on, is that a good bouillabaisse is a two-step process. First, it must begin as a fortified fish soup-  “soupe de poisson.”  The soupe de poisson is then transformed into the bouillabaisse. This is a lengthy and time-consuming recipe, that if done right, is worth every ounce of effort. There is no fast version of making a good bouillabaisse.

I personally suggest that you make a bouillabaisse only when you have the time to dedicate to it.  Approach it with a fun attitude, with some French bistro music playing in the background and a nice chilled bottle of your favorite French wine ready to pour. This will be cooking in the spirit of the dish and it will turn this lengthy recipe, into a fun-to-make, delicious timeless classic that you will want to make time and time again.

This recipe is a “tale of two soups”where one leads ultimately to the other “Soupe de Poisson” to “Bouillabaisse.”