Food & dining

Sunday Supper

French stew with local fish, then tossed with pasta

New England bouillabaisse.

Styling by Sheryl Julian/Globe staff and photo by Michele McDonald for The Boston Globe

New England bouillabaisse.

What distinguishes Provencal bouillabaisse from other fish soups is saffron, fennel seeds, orange rind, and the abundance of seafood. In “The Oxford Companion to Food,” Alan Davidson writes that bouillabaisse must contain the bony fish rascasse, along with varieties that fall apart and thicken the broth, shellfish, tomatoes, and saffron. Some food historians believe that because of that array, the soup couldn’t be a fisherman’s boil. But Davidson is sure it is, made on the beach after a day at sea. He thinks the word comes from bouillon abaissé, “broth lowered” in French, or what we think of as reducing liquid to intensify it.

This New England version of the famous Marseille pot contains only boneless white fish (whatever you can find), shrimp, and mussels. Let the broth simmer, then sit for several hours to mellow. The next day, toss seafood and the intense liquid with pasta to use up the last of the broth in another beautiful presentation.


Shopping list

(Bouillabaisse, pasta with seafood)

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2 pounds skinless, boneless
fish such as cod, haddock,
hake, monkfish

2 pounds shrimp

2 pounds mussels


1 large bulb fresh fennel

2 large sweet onions

½ bunch fresh basil

1 navel orange

Salt and pepper

¼ cup olive oil

1 can (28 ounces) whole

4 cups clam juice

1 tablespoon crushed
red pepper

½ teaspoon saffron

½ teaspoon sugar

1 pound penne, shells, or
other small pasta

Sheryl Julian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.
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