top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Travel France from your kitchen: Bouillabaisse recipe

Try this simplified version of the Occitan classic for a taste of the Mediterranean coast in the final instalment of our lockdown food journeys through France 

The story goes that bouillabaisse was originally invented by fishermen who boiled the fish that were too bony to sell.

Tomatoes were added in the 17th century, and by the 19th century the dish was becoming more luxurious, with the addition of fish stock, saffron and - later on - shellfish.

The name comes from the recipe. The soup is boiled (bolhir in Occitan) and then every time a different fish is added, the heat is lowered (abaissar in Occitan).

It can either be served in one dish or the fish can be removed and served separately. It is often accompanied with garlic croutons, rouille (a Provençal sauce made from chilli peppers, garlic, and breadcrumbs blended with stock) or aioli (mayonnaise with garlic).

A real bouillabaisse requires a selection of fresh fish which is not always available in supermarkets, so here is a simplified version using easily available ingredients.

Serves 6 


2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 small head of fennel chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
100ml dry white wine
750ml fish stock
6 large fresh tomatoes chopped
Large pinch saffron
1 kilo cleaned mussels (throw away any that don't close when tapped)
350g cod (cabillaud) cut into pieces
1 sea bass (loup) filets, cut into pieces
200g fresh peeled prawns
Salt and pepper


Fry the onion and fennel gently in the olive oil for five minutes.

Add the garlic, tomato purée, wine, and fish stock and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the mussels and boil until they are all open (four to five minutes). If any don't open, throw them away.

Leave some mussels in their shells, take the rest out of their shells and reserve.

Blend the soup (you may need to sieve it to get it completely smooth) and add the cod and sea bass.

Simmer for a few minutes and then add the rest of the mussels and the freshly peeled prawns. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bon appétit!

Explore the rest of France with our regional recipe series 

You'll find the 12 other recipes in Travel France from your kitchen in our Food and Drink section. We also feature recipes every month from local chefs in our 'French Living' culture and lifestyle pullout included in our monthly print edition.

Have you attempted any of the recipes so far? Email us with your pictures and the subject line 'Lockdown recipes' to

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now