top of page

Bouillabaisse with Rouille Croutons

This seafood soup hails from the Provence region of France, and in particular the port city of Marseilles. It has always been a melting pot of a town and this classic, which combines local fish with white wine and saffron, is the perfect example of its varied cuisine. I once had a chef from Marseille tell me “if you serve bouillabaisse without croutons topped with rouille, then an angel in Marseille dies, that is if you can find one.”  So, not being anti-angel, I have also included a recipe for the garlicky and fiery accompaniment. 

Simon Majumdar's Bouillabaisse with Rouille Croutons recipe

Bouillabaisse with Rouille Croutons Recipe

(Serves 4-6)



For the Soup

  • 12 Little Neck Clams (discard any that don’t close if you tap them)

  • 2 lbs Halibut (or any firm white Fish) Cut into two inch Strips

  • 12 Raw Shrimp (with Shells)

  • 3 Cups Fish Stock (You can make your own from fish bones etc, or a good store bought one will do.  If I use store bought, I warm it through with the shells of the shrimp, then strain it to give it extra depth)

  • 1 Cup White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good with this dish)

  • 1 Pinch Saffron (reconstituted in hot water)

  • 4 Tomatoes (skinned and roughly chopped)

  • 2 Carrots (roughly chopped)

  • 1 Bulb Fennel (roughly chopped including fennel fronds)

  • 1 White Onion (roughly chopped)

  • 3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil 

  • ½ Cup Parsley (finely chopped)

  • Salt and Pepper

For the Rouille Croutons

  • 2 Cups Fresh Breadcrumbs (I make mine from day old bread)

  • 4 Cloves of Garlic

  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper

  • 1 Pinch Saffron Stems

  • 1 Cup Olive Oil

  • 3 Tablespoons Hot Water

  • 1 Pinch Salt and Black Pepper

  • 1 Baguette (cut into slices and toasted)


For the Soup

  1. Add the olive oil to a deep sided pan over a medium heat.

  2. When it comes to temperature, add the onions, garlic and a pinch of salt.

  3. Cook the onions for three minutes and then add the fennel and carrots.

  4. Cook for another three minutes and add the chopped tomatoes.

  5. Add a crack of black pepper and cook until the chopped tomatoes begin to break down and release their juices.

  6. Sprinkle in the saffron stems and their water and combine well.

  7. Add the white wine and the stock and stir well.

  8. Simmer over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes or until the smell of raw wine disappears.

  9. Strain the broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Discard the debris of the vegetables, etc.

  10. Return the broth to a clean pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

  11. Add the clams and cook for four minutes.

  12. Add the strips of the white fish and cook for two minutes.

  13. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink.

  14. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in most of the parsley.

  15. Check for seasoning.

  16. Place two clams, two shrimp and two strips of fish in a soup bowl.

  17. Ladle the broth gently around the seafood, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and drizzle with a tiny bit of good olive oil.

  18. Top with a rouille crouton (see below) .


For the Rouille Croutons

  1. Slice the baguette.

  2. Toss each slice in a little olive oil and lay on a baking sheet.

  3. Toast in a low oven until crunchy.

  4. The rouille can be made in a mortar and pestle or a food processor. I like the rougher texture of the former, but if you want to make it more like a mayonnaise, then a processor is the best bet.

  5. Add the saffron stems to the hot water and allow them to sit for five minutes.

  6. Blend the garlic to a paste.

  7. Add the saffron water to the breadcrumbs and then add them to the garlic.

  8. Add the cayenne pepper, the black pepper and the salt.

  9. Blend the mixture and gradually add in the olive oil in a slow stream until it forms a thick paste.

  10. Spread a little on the top of each crouton and place on top of the seafood in the soup bowl.

bottom of page