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Serves 8 to 10

Cook Time
1 hr

Few experiences are more magical than sitting seaside at twilight, sipping white wine and savoring the famous fish soup called bouillabaisse.


Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Randy Mon
 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  Platter of Marinated Fish
 3 large, ripe red tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 6 good-quality canned Roma tomatoes
 4 cups Fish Stock
 1 cup white wine
 1 bay leaf
 3 sprigs thyme
 1/4 teaspoon pepper
 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
 1/2 pound spot prawns or other West Coast shrimp, heads and tails intact, live if possible
 3 cooked Alaskan snow crab legs, thawed if frozen and cut into 2-in. pieces; or 1/2 lb. cooked Dungeness crab, cracked
 1 pound California mussels
 1 pound California squid (calamari), tubes and tentacles separated, tubes cut into 1/2-in. rings
Step 1

Heat oil in a large, wide pot over medium-high heat. Sauté leek and onion until translucent, 2 minutes. Add garlic, then fennel slices from under fish on platter. Sauté 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and salt.

Step 2

Remove fish from platter; set aside. Lift off fennel stalks and fronds and discard. Scrape marinade into broth. Bring to a boil, covered; then simmer, covered, until fennel slices are meltingly soft, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 1 qt. water to a boil.

Step 3

Bring broth to a rolling boil. Lay in the halibut and add enough boiling water to just cover fish. Cook until just opaque, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a platter and cover.

Step 4

Add thinner fish fillets and spot prawns and cook just until opaque, 2 minutes; transfer to platter as done. Add crab and mussels and cook just until mussels open, 5 minutes. Transfer both to platter. Add squid and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute; transfer to platter. Bathe platter with a ladle of broth. Remove bay leaf and thyme.

Step 5

Ladle about 1 cup broth each into big soup bowls (keep broth hot for a second serving, covered). Bring bowls, platter, rouille, and toasts to the table. Put a little of each seafood in every bowl and top with a dollop of rouille. Serves 8 to

Step 6

Make ahead: Add fish to remaining broth and keep, chilled, up to 5 days.

Step 7

Buying Guide

Step 8

When choosing your seafood, try to vary the textures and flavors. Some should be firm, others soft; some mild, others briny. Find them at a good seafood shop or your farmers' market.

Step 9

Alaskan snow crab legs: Very firm, lobsterlike texture; sweet and mild. Usually only available cooked.

Step 10

California mussels: Briny flavor; soft, melting texture with a bit of chew.

Step 11

California squid (calamari): Firm but tender; sweet yet meaty. It's neither fish nor shellfish, really, but it gives great texture and flavor to the soup.

Step 12

Dungeness crab: Flaky; sweet and moist.

Step 13

Pacific cod (true cod, gray cod): Delicate; mild flavor.

Step 14

Pacific halibut: Firm, with mild flavor.

Step 15

Petrale sole: Delicate texture; mild, sweet flavor.

Step 16

Rockfish (black bass, sea bass, black snapper): Medium-firm; clean sea flavor.

Step 17

Sablefish (black cod): Silky, medium-firm; rich, buttery flavor.

Step 18

Spiny lobsters: Succulent and firm. Can use, cooked, instead of crab. Available from fall to spring.

Step 19

Spot prawns: Incredibly sweet taste and tender-crisp; keep head and tail on for the most flavor. Can be hard to find.

Step 20

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Serves 8 to 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories 737Calories from Fat 53
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 45g70%

Saturated Fat 7.1g36%
Cholesterol 296mg99%
Sodium 1149mg48%
Total Carbohydrate 34g12%

Dietary Fiber 3.4g14%
Protein 50g100%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.