New England Bouillabaisse for One

New England Bouillabaisse

This mock bouillabaisse is so scrumptious that you would never know it had anything “left over” in it. You do have to stop and pick up a dozen or so fresh mussels and a few clams the day you’re making it, but otherwise everything else is at hand, and you can put this together in half an hour. I am assuming, of course, that you have a good fish stock in your freezer; if not, plan to make this after you’ve had a lobster or a supper of steamed mussels and have some of that intense lobster or mussel broth left. Otherwise use clam juice, diluted by half with water because it is quite strong.–Judith Jones

LC I Beg Your Pardon, What's Pistou? Note

Pistou, a term which Ms. Jones bandies about easily but without explanation, means slightly different things to different folks. It came to be in Provence, in the South of France, where basil grows abundantly, its fragrance and flavor a classic and omnipresent accompaniment to almost everything. The condiment is simply basil pounded with garlic and olive oil in a mortar and pestle and served as a dollop on a soup or a spread on bread, although should you not happen to have any basil, Ms. Jones offers an alternate condiment, one that’s pictured above and is equally French. “If you don’t have any pistou on hand or time to make it, try mashing to a paste a small clove of garlic and a little salt, and then mixing that in with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Whisk in a few pinches of paprika and a dash of hot pepper. Purists would not approve, but you can cheat a little when you’re by yourself. Nobody is looking.” There you have it.

New England Bouillabaisse

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 1
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups fish broth (see headnote)
  • A few flat-leaf parsley stems
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 or 5 small clams
  • 1 dozen mussels
  • A piece of freshly cooked or leftover cooked fish, whether white fish or salmon (about 4 ounces)
  • A sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 slices French bread, toasted
  • A generous dollop of pistou (see LC I Beg Your Pardon, What’s Pistou? Note above)


  • 1. Heat the oil in a medium pot, and sauté the onion and garlic gently until softened.
  • 2. Add the tomato, sauté another minute, then pour in the fish stock and seasonings, tasting to judge how much salt and pepper you need. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  • 3. Add the clams. If you’re using fresh fish, slip that into the pot now. Clams always take longer than mussels, so give the clams a few minutes before adding the mussels. If you’re using leftover cooked fish, slip that into the pot now along with the mussels. Cook until the shellfish opens. Discard any that do not open.
  • 4. Sprinkle the parsley over the bouillabaisse and sit down to it with a couple of slices of toasted French bread spread with pistou.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This recipe is perfect for a quick hearty bouillabaisse for one. I had frozen fish stock and leftover seafood so all I ended up buying were some clams. It required less chopping and ingredient prep than my regular version, but with similar results. I will definitely make this again. I prefer Emeril’s red pepper rouille to the pistou with this meal, but that may just personal preference. Overall a lovely, very easy recipe.

This is a great version of bouillabaisse made simply with a limited list of ingredients. It’s the perfect way to make a dish that’s usually too much bother for just one person. My only suggestion is that there’s quite a bit of liquid and it remained rather “thin” for what I seek in a bouillabaisse. I added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste from the squeeze tube that I keep in my refrigerator and this did the trick. The fennel flavor was not very discernable and the next time I will either crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle or add fresh sliced fennel. The dish needs quite a bit of seasoning or else it will taste bland. The final result was delicious and just as satisfying as any other bouillabaisse made with a greater number of ingredients. This recipe can easily be increased to accommodate the desired number of servings. I had three people to serve and so I simply tripled all of the ingredients.

This single-portion bouillabaisse has a very good flavor, especially for the little work involved. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to throw together. It doubles well, too, so you can share it with your favorite seafood lover. I couldn’t find pistou in a jar, but I could easily find pesto, and that does go pretty well with the rest of the dish. Together, you get a quick weekday meal that leaves plenty of time for other activities. Due to the number of mussels, there was a lot of broth left over. Next time, I’d start with one to 1 ½ cups of fish stock. The resulting broth may be a tad stronger, but that wouldn’t hurt, anyway. Without the pistou and bread thing, I’d add some herbes de Provence to the pot to give it a bit more complexity.

I had this dish on the table in half an hour. I didn’t have frozen good fish stock (sorry, Judith) so I followed her advice about diluting clam juice. The broth was flavorful with just the few ingredients called for in the recipe. I could really taste the fennel seeds, even though I only used a pinch. It looked like a lot of food for one serving (my boyfriend and I split it), but I found myself wanting a snack later in the evening.


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  1. I borrowed this cookbook from the libes but I enjoyed it so much that I want to own it and I have only one cookbook but hundreds of index cards, internet and magazine recipes (all neatly filed of course – yeah right – but I do try a couple of times a year).

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