Blue bowl of bouillabaisse with a dollop of rouille on top.

Bouillabaisse is a traditional French fisherman’s stew. It is essentially a stew that the fishermen in the southern costal area of France would make with fish they were not able to sell. So, the goal is to have a variety of fish and seafood in the stew. But more importantly, the goal is to use good and fresh seafood.

So, when I saw a good deal on fresh mussels and cod at my local grocery store, I picked up a few pounds of them and decided to have fun making bouillabaisse. I’ve seen a few different bouillabaisse recipes on the Food Network and a couple of French cookbooks I own. This recipe is my midwestern, budget-friendly approach that would be great for a casual yet impressive winter dinner with friends.

One way to make this bouillabaisse more budget friendly is to use Goya sazon con azafran (with saffron) seasoning packet. It is much cheaper than using saffron. I have links to both below the recipe. Another budget-friendly tip: don’t worry too much about getting the exact types of seafood in the recipe. Purchase what is fresh and on sale! If there’s a good deal on squid, crab, or scallops put those in the stew! And you can substitute the type of fish too, just make sure it is a heartier piece of fish that won’t fall apart in the heat. So, no tilapia.

Large bowl of bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse with Rouille

A French fish and seafood stew.
Course Soup
Cuisine French
Servings 4


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb (reserve the fronds) sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp saffron threads (or substitute with one packet of goya sazon con azafran/with saffron)
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups fish or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 lb creamer potatoes halved or quartered (depending on their size)
  • 1-2 lbs mussels or clams (or a combination of both)
  • 1/2 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 4 fillets of hearty white fish, such as cod or halibut, about 4 oz each


  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic grated/minced
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbps red wine vinegar
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  • reserved fennel fronds
  • parsley
  • lemon wedges


  • In a dutch oven or large soup pot, saute fennel and onion in the olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and saffron, cooking about 1 more minute.
  • Add the white wine, deglazing the pan (scraping the bottom of it with the spoon to get up any brown bits). Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, and potatoes.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the mussels and fish (except for the shrimp) to the simmering pot and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mussels have completely opened. Discard any unopened shells.
  • Serve in shallow serving bowls with a dollop of the rouille, garnish with parsley, lemon, and/or the reserved fennel fronds.


  • To make the rouille mix together all of the ingredients in a small bowl, making a thick sauce.

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