Bouillabaisse, the traditional fish soup

A must try of Marseille's gastronomy

Bouillabaisse is an emblematic dish of Marseille that you must try during your stay in the Phocaean City. We tell you all about this culinary speciality full of anecdotes, and above all that we like to share!

A little bit of history

Originally it was a dish made by fishermen who, when sorting the fish for sale, set aside some pieces to prepare for themselves and their families.

It is therefore a simple family dish which, over the years, has been perfected and can now include a binding base and even shellfish. Bouillabaisse is an emblematic dish of our beautiful city, although it is said to be of Greek and Roman origin… Why this name? Simply because when the broth boils, the heat must be lowered so that the fish cooks, hence the literal meaning ‘when it boils, we lower it’.


One way to serve it…

Generally speaking, this preparation is served in two different dishes: the fish on one side, the broth on the stove.
Depending on the taste of the guest, the two can be mixed together in a soup plate or served separately. But one rule remains fundamental: the fish must be cut up in front of the guests. The mayonnaise based sauce or sauces (rouille or aïoli) are also served, possibly accompanied by croutons rubbed with garlic.

Here are some ideas of white wines to accompany it:
– Bandol
– Bellet
– Cassis
– Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
– Côteaux Varois de Provence
– Côte de Provence.


Fish and ingredients

Marseille’s bouillabaisse must include at least 4 of the following species:

– scorpion fish
– monkfish
– white scorpion fish
– fielas (conger eel)
– spider crab
– capon (red scorpion fish)
– galinette (red mullet)* optional
– St. Pierre (John Dory)
– slipper lobster
– lobster

This list allows you to choose according to the arrivals and the number of guests. But there remains one essential fact for the quality of the bouillabaisse: it is the extreme freshness of the fish, an essential condition for success.
Salt, pepper, saffron, olive oil, garlic, onions, fennel, parsley, potatoes, tomatoes. For the bottom: small rock fish (girelle, saupe, small mullets, castagnol…)


Useful tips

It is very important to make a reservation first!

In general, bouillabaisse is served for a minimum of two people. Here are some addresses where you can taste a good bouillabaisse:

Le Miramar, 12 quai du port 13002 (tel:
Chez Fonfon, 140 rue du vallon des Auffes (tel :
Le Rhul, 269 Corniche Président John Fitzgerald Kennedy 13007 (tel :
Chez Loury, 3 rue Fortia 13001(tel :

We wish you a good tasting!

How about a little cooking?

Here is a recipe that we suggest:

  • 4 kg of fish (depending on availability)
  • 1.5 kg of scorpion fish
  • 1 kg of Saint-Pierre
  • 6 slices of fielas
  • 3 red mullet
  • 4 weaverfish
  • 6 slices of monkfish
  • 1 kg of fish soup.

Brown the onion, garlic and tomatoes over a high heat in olive oil. Add the soup fish, cleaned and cut up, and stir to obtain a paste-like consistency (about 15 minutes). Add boiling water and leave to boil for at least 1 hour.

Add fennel and parsley, salt and pepper. Pass through a food mill, then through a sieve, without forgetting to press the bottom so that the juice runs out.

Add the raw potatoes cut into large slices (2 slices per person), then the fish according to their size and the firmness of their flesh (scorpion fish, Saint-Pierre, fielas, anglerfish).

Boil for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before serving, add the galinettes and the spiders.

Once cooked, remove the fish and potatoes, add salt and pepper, saffron and arrange on serving dishes.

The usual recipe is based on aïoli to which saffron and hot pepper are added.

Another recipe can be made with potatoes and chilli.

Some restaurants have signed the ‘Bouillabaisse charter’ created in 1980 by certain restaurateurs to define the basic ingredients and presentation of this dish in order to ensure its quality. Indeed, this charter was invented because some unscrupulous restaurateurs were using the name ‘bouillabaisse’ to serve any fish soup. Nevertheless, there are some restaurateurs who serve it in the rules of the art, but they did not wish to subscribe to this charter.