Pacific Northwest Bouillabaisse

In the olden-days I used to serve bouillabaisse for Christmas Eve dinner. If you love fresh seafood and can get it during the winter months, this is a great dish to make for yourself and other eager seafood lovers. Because this recipe is made for our family’s taste buds, feel free to adjust it to your likes by adding, deleting, or substituting from this list of ingredients.

I make this seafood soup differently each time I make it. What goes in it depends on what’s available, the season, and what I feel like putting in the pot.  It’s as simple as that. Add what you want…..then enjoy it all. One word of warning….don’t wear good clothes for this dinner. It can be messy. Cloth napkins are highly recommended. This soup is super with a tossed green salad and crunchy bread (French bread, etc.).


Soup base:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow, red, or green pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped  (prefer Walla Walla, Vidalia, or Mayan)
2 – 3 garlic cloves, chopped
6 – 8 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2  – 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or to taste)
1/2  – 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or to taste)
2 cups dry red or white wine
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
pepper to taste


Suggested seafood: (Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of any of these items.)
1 lb. fillet mild white fish (i.e. cod, halibut, or your favorite white fish)
1 lb. medium – large prawns
2  Dungeness crabs, cleaned and cracked (have your fishmonger       
    clean and crack it for you)

2 doz. fresh clams
1-2 lb. sea scallops (large scallops; not the small ones)


If clams are newly dug, soak them in cold salted water for at least an hour—or longer if possible. Drain, clean shells (gently scrub with a brush), and rinse before adding to broth. If clams are from seafood market, simply clean and rinse.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté pepper, onion, and garlic in oil until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Add wine. Simmer for at least an hour to let the flavors blend.

Approximately 15 minutes before serving, add white fish and clams to the broth; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add prawns and cook covered for 5 minutes. Add crab and cook covered for 5 minutes or until clams have opened, shrimp is pink and opaque, and crab is hot. (Do not eat any clams that have not opened.)

Serves 6-8 people.