Julia Child's bouillabaisse, a kind of Provencal fish chowder, uses local fish, creating a fresh dish that's bursting with flavor.


  • 1 cup sliced yellow onions
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sliced leeks, white part only; or ½ cup more onions
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • A heavy 8-quart kettle or casserole
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or 1¼ cups drained canned tomatoes, or ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 4 cloves mashed garlic
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 6 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme or basil
  • 1/8 tsp fennel
  • 2 big pinches of saffron
  • A 2-inch piece or 1/2 tsp dried orange peel
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tb salt (none if using clam juice)
  • 3 to 4 lbs fish heads, bones, and trimmings including shellfish remains; or, 1 quart clam juice and 11/2 quarts of water, and no salt
  • 6 to 8 lbs assorted lean fish, and shellfish if you wish


Cook the onions and leeks slowly in olive oil for five minutes or until almost tender but not browned.

Stir in the garlic and tomatoes. Raise heat to moderate and cook five minutes more.

Add the water, herbs, seasonings, and fish heads, bones, and trimmings to the kettle (or clam juice) and cook uncovered at a moderate boil for 30 to 40 minutes.

Strain the soup into the saucepan, pressing juices out of ingredients. Correct seasoning, adding a bit more saffron if you feel it necessary.

You should have 2 1/2 quarts of in a higher, rather narrow kettle.

Bring the soup to a rapid boil 20 minutes before serving. Add lobsters, crabs, and firm-fleshed fish. Bring quickly back to the boil and boil rapidly for five minutes. Add the tender-fleshed fish, the clams, mussels, and scallops. Bring rapidly to the boil again and boil five minutes more or until the fish are just tender when pierced with a fork. Do not overcook.

Immediately lift out the fish and arrange on the platter. Correct seasoning, and pour the soup into the tureen over rounds of French bread. Spoon a ladleful of soup over the fish, and sprinkle parsley over both fish and soup. Serve immediately accompanied by the optional rouille.

Note: To prepare the fish for cooking, have them cleaned and scaled. Discard the gills. Save heads and trimmings for fish stock. Cut large fish into crosswise slices two inches wide. Scrub clams. Scrub and soak the mussels. Wash scallops. If using live crab or lobster, split them just before cooking. remove the sand sack and intestinal tube from lobsters.

Bouillabaisse A La Marseillaise” from THE FRENCH CHEF COOKBOOK by Julia Child, copyright © 1968 by Julia Child. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.