Bouillabaisse is a French fisherman's soup. This traditional Provençal fish stew originated in the port of Marseille. The word is a compound of bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to reduce heat, i.e., simmer).
It was a stew made by Marseille fishermen using the bony rockfish they were unable to sell. As well as fish, the soup has mussels (fr: moules) and may have other marine invertebrates. Vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes are simmered together with the broth and served with the fish.
In Marseille, the broth is served first in a soup plate with slices of bread and rouille, then the fish is served separately on a large platter (see image). A simpler version has the fish and broth brought to the table separately and served together in large soup plates.
- "Serve the bouillon very hot with the rouille in soup plates with thick slices of country bread rubbed with garlic. Then serve the fish and the potatoes (Jean-Louis André, Cuisines des pays de France, Éditions du Chêne, 2001) "The fish are served on a platter, and the broth in a tureen, and you eat both together in large soup plates." (Julia Child, The French Chef Cookbook., Knopf, 1968)