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Posted on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

Bouillabaisse - seafood soup provides instant aromatherapy

By Peggy Lampman



Peggy Lampman | Contributor


The new Holiday Cookbook answers all of your cooking needs. Strapped for time? Check out the well-tested Super-Simple section.

My custom concocted aromatherapy treatment is to deeply inhale the scent of fresh seafood simmering in a bath of saffron, garlic and fennel; otherwise known as Bouillabaisse; by any other name would smell as sweet.


We sawed down the perfect Douglas Fir at Urquhart's Tree Farm; now to decorate!

Richard and I sawed down the perfect Douglas Fir at Urquhart's Tree Farm, and this soup was the perfect warm up dish to stringing lights.

Seafood soups and chowders taste so right at this time of the year; Cioppino and Oyster Stew are other traditional favorites.

Active time (not including stock preparation): 40 minutes

Simmer time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4-6


1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 fennel bulbs, cored, halved and sliced (reserve leafy fennel fronds for garnish)
4 1/2 cups fish stock*
1 can (28-ounce) crushed Italian plum tomatoes
12 raw jumbo shrimp
12 dry-packed scallops
2 pounds monkfish, filleted and cut diagonally into 3-inch strips
Grated zest of one orange
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, optional


1. Crumble saffron threads into wine and let steep.
2. In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté leeks with a pinch of kosher salt, about 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, fennel seeds and sliced fennel and sauté an additional 2 minutes, stirring. Add stock and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, with liquid, and saffron-wine mixture. Stir and let simmer 30 minutes. (This can be made up to 36 hours in advance at this point.) Place monkfish pieces in hot broth and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp and scallops and simmer until just cooked through, an additional 5-8 minutes. Stir in orange zest and season to taste with cayenne and kosher salt.
4. Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh basil, if using, and reserved fennel fronds.

*If time allows, making your own seafood stock (or purchasing scratch-made stock from Monohan’s) is worth the effort. I have made and enjoyed bouillabaisse using bottled clam juice or mixing a seafood base (such as Better than Bouillon) with water for the stock.

Peggy Lampman is a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on her website and in the Food & Grocery section of You may also e-mail her at