Classic French Bourride

by Molly Shuster

You can substitute store-bought seafood stock into this classic creamy Provençal stew, but for the full flavor profile, we recommend making your own, below.


  • Bones from 2 medium white fish (ask your fishmonger to reserve ahead of time)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, quartered
  • 1 fennel, top stalks only, saving the bulb for the soup
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 Fresno chili pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 3⁄4 cup canola oil
  • 1⁄2 cup olive oil
  • SOUP
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 leek, halved, thoroughly washed and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fennel bulb from stock, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Pinch saffron
  • 4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds littlenecks
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds mussels
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds cod, cut into 2-inch pieces (Captain’s cut, ideally)
  • 1⁄2 pound scallops (about 12)
  • 3⁄4 pound lobster meat (roughly 2 cooked lobsters)
  • 1 baguette, sliced on a strong bias, about 1⁄4-inch thick
Classic French Bourride

Elizabeth Cecil

Wash the fish bones under cold running water. Place all of the ingredients into a large stock pot. Cover with a good 3-4 inches of cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Strain. Discard remaining solids. Set aside 8 cups for soup.

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until blackened and charred, a few minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let steam 10-15 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 400°.
Meanwhile, heat the white wine vinegar, crushed garlic, and saffron in a sauté pan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Peel, seed, and chop the peppers. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peppers, vinegar mixture, egg yolks, and salt. Process until finely chopped. With the motor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream and blend until it emulsifies into a thick, satiny sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a large, clean stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leek, celery, and garlic, and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the fennel and sauté for another couple of minutes. Mix in the bay leaves, thyme, and saffron, and pour in the dry vermouth. Let cook for 1 minute. Add 8 cups of fish stock and heat until the stock is steaming but not boiling.

Add the littlenecks and cook for two minutes. Add the mussels, cod, scallops, and a little more fish stock or water, if need be. Cook until the seafood is just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in the lobster meat. Salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes per side.

Stir a large spoonful of rouille into the soup. Spread rouille onto 4 of the baguette toasts and serve one in each bowl of soup. Serve immediately with extra baguette and rouille on the side.

Fish stock and rouille can be made a day ahead.

Yield: 4 servings