Bouillabaisse – Julia Child

Julia Child’s bouillabaisse; A quick and hearty fish stew full of flavor and spice. Easily personalize this dish with your favorite varieties of seafood.

Quick and hearty bouillabaisse recipe from @bakedbyrachel

Bouillabaisse Recipe from

Even though I’m not a seafood lover, I’ve mentioned before how much I do love living in New England where fresh seafood is so easy to come by. I never sought out a fish store before living where we do now. Just fifteen minutes away and I can get an amazing variety of very fresh, local seafood. Sure, I could just as easily go to the grocery store but I’d much rather go to a specialty shop if there’s one nearby. The staff will be more knowledgable, the variety may be better and the product may even be fresher. Always a plus.

With it being summer, I was left with two options for this weeks JC100 adventure… take all three kids to the fish market or the less exciting option, wait until The Mr was around so I could go alone.

Bouillabaisse Recipe from

Picture a small enclosed space and wild animals, that isn’t too much of a stretch. Slightly frightening, yes? People think I’m crazy for taking all three kids out at once, by myself especially. I tweeted my fears as I sat in the fish market parking lot. We’d been out running errands prior to that without any major issues, my good luck was surely bound to run out. Thankfully someone was looking out for me because the children all behaved. Phew!

A bag full of fresh seafood and we were on our way.

First came some research. If you don’t know what debearding a mussel is, check that out. It’s easy. Only one of mine needed to be cleaned, the rest were good to go.

Then came the fun part. Have you ever played with a mussel before? I was highly amused getting them to close after opening. Snapping them at my oldest. She was fascinated. Call it seafood torture if you want but they were headed to a boiling pot of liquid anyway. It’s not like I had them tap dancing away on the counter. Though I have been known to have a chicken dance once or twice. The difference it that one was already dead but still headed to the oven.

Bouillabaisse Recipe from

I’ve never in my life cooked shrimp or mussels… or lobster. Each time I’ve cooked with lobster I’ve gone the easy route and bought it ready to go. It makes my life easier and with this recipe you only need a tail so go ahead and take the easy route too. I bought shrimp that had been cleaned too. I didn’t want to be bothered with looking up how to devein a shrimp. I’ll leave that for another time. This dish was meant to be quick and easy in my eyes. The less work, the better.

With some minor adjustments and a quick boil, a hearty seafood soup was ready. A medley of spices gave perfect flavoring and a slight kick. If you aren’t a fan of spice then feel free to omit the red pepper flakes. It isn’t hot, but does give a little something extra to the dish. The best thing about this soup is that you can play around with the seafood thrown in as well as the spices. Use a variety of seafood that you enjoy most.

Bouillabaisse Recipe from


Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Seafood
Servings: 4


  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 oz canned chopped tomatoes drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • 15 oz seafood stock**
  • 2 C water
  • 1 lobster tail cooked and chopped
  • 6 large shrimp deveined
  • 8 mussels scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 flounder fillet cut into large chunks


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Add liquid, herbs and seasonings. Bring to a moderate boil for 10 minutes.
  • Finally add cooked lobster meat, shrimp, mussels and flounder (or other white meat fish). Stir gently. Cover and bring to a boil for an additional 5-10 minutes. The mussels are done when they have opened. If some do not open, discard. The shrimp will turn an opaque color with a hue of pink and the flounder will be flaky and white.
  • Remove from heat. Serve warm with fresh bread and Parmesan cheese, if desired.


**I used Bar Harbor seafood stock. The original recipe calls for clam juice. If you cannot find seafood stock, use 2: 8oz jars of clam juice instead.  Seafood stock will be located near the other stocks and broths. Clam juice should be near the canned fish.
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Celebrating 100 with Julia Child:
Week 1: Rolled omelette
Week 2: Chocolate mousse
Week 3: Coq au Vin
Week 4: Salade Niçoise
Week 5: Vichyssoise
Week 6: Reine de Saba
Week 7: Fillet Meunière
Week 8: Roast Chicken
Week 9: Charlotte Chantilly

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15 Responses to “Bouillabaisse – Julia Child”

  1. #
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — July 13, 2012 at 8:44 am

    You are very brave for cooking this!! It is so pretty! I might have even tried a bite or two :)

  2. #
    Carrie @ Bakeaholic mama — July 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    I dread doing things like that with 3 in tow. But you do what you gotta do! I never utilize fresh seafood in NH… I buy lobster on a rare occasion for my husband or do some fresh mussels but that’s about it! This Bouillabaisse looks so good I almost wish I like seafood!

  3. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — July 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Seriously!? This sounds {and looks} FANTASTIC… and that last shot is beautiful! Way to go girl!

  4. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — July 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    This looks gorgeous!!! I am not a huge seafood lover, but my husband would kill for a big bowl of this!

  5. #
    claire @ the realistic nutritinoist — July 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Um, your photos are AMAZING! We have the same cutting board too! Twinsies :) Love this!

  6. #
    Jennifer | Mother Thyme — July 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    I know I’m going to be thinking about this the rest of the day now! Simply delicious!

  7. #
    sue — July 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    can i substitute crab for lobster? I’m not a big lobster fan.

    • #
      Rachel — July 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Sue! You should be able to sub in crab without issue. That’s the beauty of a dish like this, you really use whatever seafood you like best!

  8. #
    Anna @ hiddenponies — July 14, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I’ve never cooked with mussels…but this looks very worth it. I love taking my kids out even if it can be a gong show, since it gives us all something to do and makes the day go so much more quickly!

  9. #
    amy @ fearless homemaker — July 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

    this sounds fantastic – i’m super impressed! i rarely tackle seafood dishes because they seem so daunting, but it sounds like they might be manageable after all. =)

  10. #
    amanda @ fake ginger — July 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Every time you post one of these Julia recipes I’m shocked at how short the ingredient list is for such a sophisticated dish. I wish I could get seafood here. :(

  11. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — July 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    I wish we had constant fresh seafood like New England. I like how easy this seafood dish is because I’m often intimidated to cook it because of the complexity in some of the seafood. I can likely handle this one ;) it’s one of my favorite cajun dishes’s one of the first dishes I had in NOLA when I visited!

  12. #
    Carla @ Carla's Confections — July 15, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Ooh this is a great one!!!! I am a huge seafood fan! I love this :)

  13. #
    Isa — July 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I wish I would have this right now to eat! I looove all kinds of seafood. A perfect dish for me.

  14. #
    nicole @ I am a Honey Bee — July 20, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I could eat this ALL THE TIME!!!!

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