This take on the classic Provençal stew combines clams, mussels, shrimp, and monkfish in a savory olive oil-enriched broth studded with potatoes and fennel.

Close-up of a bouillabaisse served in a white bowl with a glass of French rosé.

Tina Rupp

Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs

When Cathal Armstrong was growing up in Ireland, his father (a travel agent and avid cook) made all kinds of Spanish and French dishes, including a great bouillabaisse. Now Armstrong serves his own phenomenal version of the Provençal seafood stew that's packed with shrimp, mussels, clams, and monkfish. When he began offering the dish at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia, one of the first customers to order it was his mother, who was visiting from Ireland. She loved it, Armstrong reports, adding wryly, "Why wouldn't she? She's my mother."



  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 8 shallots, coarsely chopped

  • 2 leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon tightly packed saffron

  • 3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 pounds non-oily white fish bones and heads

  • 4 thyme sprigs

  • 4 parsley sprigs

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 (8-ounce) baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/2 roasted red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon harissa

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 leek, white and tender green parts, finely diced

  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed

  • 16 mussels, debearded

  • 8 large shrimp (about 1/2 pound), shelled and deveined

  • 1 1/2 pounds snapper or monkfish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 8 thin slices of baguette, brushed with olive oil and toasted

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Prepare the broth

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, leeks, fennel, and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the fish bones and heads, 3 quarts of water, the thyme, parsley, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat for 45 minutes.

  2. Strain the broth and discard the solids. Return the broth to the pot and boil over high heat until it is reduced to 6 cups, about 20 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper.

Make the rouille

  1. In a small saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the potato until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor.

  2. With the machine on, add the egg yolks, chopped garlic, red pepper, and harissa and process to a puree. With the machine on, add the olive oil and process very briefly until it's just incorporated. Scrape the rouille into a bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate.

Cook the soup

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek, and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potato and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the clams and cook over moderate heat until they start to open. Add the mussels, shrimp, and fish and simmer until all of the seafood is just cooked, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil; season with salt and pepper.

  2. Spread the baguette toasts with some of the rouille. Spoon the bouillabaisse into four large, shallow bowls and serve with the toasts and lemon wedges. Pass the remaining rouille at the table.

Make ahead

The broth can be refrigerated overnight. The rouille can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Suggested pairing

Nothing goes better with bouillabaisse than a rosé from the south of France; its summery berry flavor and light body is delicate enough for seafood but emphatic enough for the intensely garlicky rouille.

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