One of my very dearest friends, Donna came to stay in the summer, and she´s a chick who enjoys cooking and eating, even though she´s a tiny little thing who looks like she eats like a sparrow! On her first night I wanted to prepare something special for us all and one of the first questions she asked as I picked her up at the airport was “What are we eating tonight?”. When I told her I was making a fish soup I could see her little face fall, she looked so disappointed. I don´t know what she was expecting, but when I served a similar version to this recipe, she brightened up considerably and then gave me a good telling off for giving such a delicious meal such a dull name.
So that´s why it now has a “proper” name, and I have to agree, it does sound so much nicer than “Fish Soup”. Mind you, a lot of things sound so much more exciting when you say them in French.
For two hungry people as a main course I used a mixture of mussels (500g), prawns (250g), clams (250g) and a large squid cleaned and chopped into bite sized chunks.
You´ll also need an orange, half a bulb of fennel (however I used wild fennel), a pinch of saffron stamens or turmeric, a cup of chopped tomato, four fat cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced, a medium onion peeled, halved and thinly sliced, the juice and zest of a medium orange, a bay leaf, a dried chili (optional), a glass of white wine (also optional but if you prefer to cook without it you may need a little extra liquid) and some olive oil for frying.
Of course, this is not an authentic version of the Provençal fish stew which is served with a rouille, but my adaptation.
Start by peeling the prawns and covering the shells with about 600 ml of water. Then add the bay leaf and bringing to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes and then strain, reserving the stock.
Clean your mussels well and rinse the clams two or three times to remove any grit.
Now lightly fry the onion and garlic in some olive oil until soft and transparent, and add the finely sliced fennel and cook for a few minutes more. Add the tomato and allow it to cook down for a few minutes. Now add the chili if using, season with a little salt and and few good grinds of fresh black pepper and the juice of the orange plus the grated orange zest, the fish stock and finally the wine. Simmer for a further 5 minutes then begin to add the seafood and shellfish. Start with the thickest first (in my case it was the squid) then after about 2 minutes when the squid had turned white I added the clams and mussels and covered with a lid. When they had opened I added the peeled prawns which were quick to cook, just a minute or two.
Finally, remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasoning and serve garnished with fennel tops, some grated orange zest and with plenty of crusty bread for those lovely juices.
For another, slightly different version with vegetables and fideo, take a look at this recipe.
60 thoughts on “Up the Mountain Bouillabaisse with Orange and Fennel”
I’ve had some truly amazing fish soup in the past, at Rick Stein’s, Blacks, Joanet (in Barcelona), some tiny little place on a cliff near Marseilles (I’ve completely forgotten the name) and I’m quite sure yours is up there with them! I can only imagine that Donna hadn’t had good fish soup before tasted Mountain Bouillabaisse 😉
You´ve eaten at some pretty amazing places – can tick Rick Stein´s off that list though! I think poor little Donna was just expecting a thin soup and she has a marvelous appetite!
That’s just wonderful looking!
Thank you Greg – it´s a big favourite here at home.
Ah, the “face fall” … have seen it so many times! But obviously you recovered in spades. Watch out, Marseille!
Yes, ad it was a very sad little face. It brightened up though!
Oh Tanya, Chica! I would like a bowl right now, cannot wait! This looks GORGEOUS! This is making its way to our table, but can’t happen fast enough!
Thank you Spree – it´s always very popular in our house and apart from cleaning the squid and mussels, doesn´t take long to pull together!
I ‘m a little embarrassed at how I gushed at the first sight of this stew and spewed my comment without first taking just a moment, and a few deep calming breaths. But here it is now the next day, I’ve got to say that is one gorgeous bowl of fish soup and I would so love a bowl of it! I’ve never cleaned mussels nor even cooked squid before. I suppose I’ll wait til a good long weekend with nothing else to do before I tackle what’s sure to be an inelegant exercise. I’ll be wishing I had you speaking encouraging and instructive words over my shoulder though, Tanya. xo
Now this comment makes me smile – I love it when I can make people excited about something I cook and feel that I´ve managed in some small way to share my passion and enthusiasm for a dish! Cleaning the seafood is not so bad. I need to do a “how to” for mussels but I´ll be wishing I had you over my shoulder taking fantastic shots and writing the words!
This looks like a great fish soup!
Thank you JamieAnne!
Oh you lucky lucky thing, the fish man comeith! What a gorgeous array of flavours in there. And you are right everything sounds better in french.. c
I´m sorry – I know you don´t get fish where you are 😦 or should I say “je suis desolée”?!
Oh wow.. that looks great, chica… love the mix of flavours! 🙂
Thanks Fati – the orange and fennel really worked well!
SImply wonderful, Tanya! I’m going to a fishmonger tomorrow with a friend and I’ve been debating preparing a brodetto. Maybe you’re posting this today is a sign and I’m supposed to make one. If The Fates go through all that trouble to get you to prepare this dish and write the blog entry, who am I to ignore the signs? Well, if I do make one and it looks half as good as yours, I’ll be more than happy. That is one beautiful dish of seafood you’ve prepared!
Mmm brodetto – isn´t is great that all the countries that have fish and shellfish have their own version of a fish soup?! The signs say “yes” make that brodetto! It is Friday after all and you know it´s “fish on Friday”! Thanks for your lovely words.
So fresh! I love that last photo.
Thank you Rosemary .- my problem is that I am always desperate to get stuck in to eating to worry too much about the photos!
I love seafood…..delicious!, have a great weekend:)
Thanks Katya – you too!
This sounds heavenly!!! I miss fennel 😦
Shall definitely try this out in the future when near a full range of ingredients again. Thanks for sharing!
It´s funny the things you miss when you are travelling – despite all the yummy food you are eating right now in Korea!
True, it sounds so yummy and looks so damn good too, if only….
Bises mi chica! ;^))
Hola Guapa – didn´t know you followed the blog! Hope this meets up to the expectations of a very good French cook! Un beso x
I love your version 🙂
Thank you so much!
That looks so scrumptious. So sad that the husband wont eat shellfish – I will have to invite a friend to lunch so I have an excuse to cook it.
I guess you could do just a fish versión…mind you, having lunch with a pal is always fun!
That does look yummy…can’t believe your friend had such little faith 🙂
I know, you´d think she knew me after 25 years of freindship!
Oh my! What amazing flavors! The orange and fennel are just calling to me!
Love that photo of your ingredients – those lovely little prawns, and fresh octopus…
I can hear them calling too! Those little prawns take a but longer to prepare, but they have a particularly good flavour when used in soups, stocks…mmmm 🙂
A sea-food extravaganza – looks gorgeous x
It was an little extravaganza – I expect you get some lovely shellfish in Dorset don´t you?!
Tanya, this is just what I was thinking of making over the weekend! and now I need to look no farther than your recipe! I was so excited to see this; I know it will taste fabulous!! I struggle with getting my mussels cleaned enough tho, it always makes me nervous. Beautiful photo and presentation!
Don´t be nervous – I use those wire kitchen scrubbers and just chuck it when I´m done. A little tug upwards on the “beard” at the join and you´re done!
Bouillabaisse is one of my all time favorite dishes and yours looks to die for! I’m craving it now…
I think it´s a special dish as the ingredients are so simple but when they come together…magic!
Fantastica receta 🙂
¡Merci y gracias! – es un plato favorito en nuestra casa
I like your adaptation – with orange and fennel, I’m imagining lovely aromas. and as to the name, the addition of mountain works for me, whereas sealevel soup doesn’t have the same ring about it somehow!
Am chuckling here – but Seashore Special might work?! Actually, maybe not. It sounds more like something a “working girl” might get up to under the pier!
LOL doesn’t do that comment justice, maybe Howl Out Loud, or Guffaw Out Loud !
😉 Couldn´t resist!
When I first started following your blog, I was sooo impressed by all he exotic dishes you make. Here you go again with something totally new to me and it looks very inviting. I always look forward to seeing what wonderful treats you’re cooking “up in the mountain”! The Big Man must be sooooooo happy! and lucky Donna for being able to enjoy this!
Yes, but I think your dishes are exotic! Mind you, there are also strong links between some of the Caribbean dishes you cook up and Spanish dishes…so interesting 🙂
Wow thats what I call seafood indulgence, I am jealous!
We´re so lucky that something so special is not a huge luxury here!
Hi Chica – I love a good bouillabaisse – all those fish flavours, mixed with a delicate orangey, anisey background flavour… Beautiful! Last time I followed a recipe for a bouillabaisse it said I should use 5 grams of Saffron… FIVE GRAMS! I buy a jar containing 7 little pots, each with 0.1g inside and it’s €11… Crazy!
Saffron is horribly expensive, luckily it is cheaper here. In an emergency (unlike the Spanish who tend to use food colouring) I add a little turmeric which does affect the taste a little, but not in a bad way!
Looks so yummy but hard to make!
If you take it slowly it´s not so complicated-or you could use peeled prawns and white fish instead!
This looks delicious! D-Man loves seafood, but I rarely make it. I actually hated seafood until I came to live in Spain. I could make more of it now, but I’ll admit I have no idea where to begin in terms of the kinds of fish I’ll need (different fish is better for different sauces, stews, wines, etc). But your recipe sounds delectable and easy enough! I’ll tell D-Man about it, and I’ve actually been craving mussels lately!
It is a pretty easy dish to make – or you could just use mussels and do them either in white wine and garlic (possibly a little cream) or with a sofrito…even easier. And if you can find cleaned mussels….hardly any work at all 😉
Ooooh, what a pretty combination. Marvelous to look at, and an inspired combination of tastes.
This is a regular favourite at home…we´re lucky though to be able to get the ingredients so easily.
It is so very late here, I cannot go to sleep and now I am hungry… I have made several trips to the pantry, the refrig and nothing seems to be right! It looks delicious!
Oooh, those sleepless nights when you get the munchies from reading too many food blogs!