creole bouillabaise

Creole Bouillabaisse

This is one of those recipes that brings me straight back to my childhood. My mother got the recipe from one of my father’s cousins while we lived in Arkansas, and nothing tastes or smells like it. As soon as I smell it I think, “Ah! Arkansas!” (And, yes, that’s a good thing!)

For some reason I always forget about this recipe, though. It’s not something I make often…though I don’t know why. Both of my kids love it, and even my fish-hating husband likes it! I think I need to get it into the rotation more often!

It’s also one of the simplest meals I make. It’s ready in half an hour, but tastes sophisticated enough to serve to company. So it’s a definite keeper of a recipe!

Bouillabaisse is the French name for fish stew – and that’s basically what this is. But if you don’t like fish, fear not. If even my husband – who detests fish in all forms – likes it, then anyone will. The buttery, winey, garlicky base to the broth is what really shines through in this!

In a large pot, melt a stick of butter, and add in some chopped celery and onion and some minced garlic.

creole bouillabaise

Dump in some flour, and stir it together. Let it cook for a few minutes.

creole bouillabaise

Pour in the white wine, chicken or vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, lemon juice, and spices. Let it simmer for a while. It doesn’t have to be long – like 10 minutes is fine. If you need it to wait, though, (for instance, until the rice is done) you can let it simmer for longer.

creole bouillabaise

Ten minutes before serving, add in a pound of flaky white fish. I always choose something with a mild flavor, like flounder, since my husband doesn’t like “fishy” things – but you can use whatever fish you like that will flake apart easily.

Also at this time put in some shrimp. I usually use the frozen kind of “salad shrimp” because I like small shrimp in this, but you can use whatever shrimp you’d prefer.

creole bouillabaise

Let it simmer for ten minutes, using a large spoon to break apart the fish.

Serve over rice. This is good in all seasons: both warming and hearty in the winter…and light enough to eat in the summer.

Doesn’t that look beautiful?! (Love those tiny shrimp!)

creole bouillabaise


Creole Bouillabaisse
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Both light and warming - this is fish stew that even fish-haters will eat.
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp whole grain spelt or whole wheat flour (if all you have is white flour, use just ¼ cup.)
  • 26 oz. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb white flaky fish, such as flounder, tilapia, cod, etc.
  • ½ lb shrimp
  1. Melt butter in a large pot and sautee the celery, onion, and garlic.
  2. Add the flour and cook and stir for a few minutes to cook the flour.
  3. Pour in the broth, wine, tomatoes, lemon juice, and seasonings. Simmer for 10-30 minutes.
  4. Ten minutes before serving, add in the fish and shrimp. While the fish cooks, use your spoon to break it apart. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice.


Part of Real Food Wednesday