February 17, 2013

Bouillabaisse With Roasted Yellow Squash & Chickpeas

by IsaChandra

Serves 6 to 8
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 45 minutes

Vegan Bouillabaisse

This isn’t your run of the mill chickpea tomato stew. It’s got so much interesting goodness going on: fennely bites, a little orange undertone and just a hint of the sea. I wish I had a really interesting story to tell about me and bouillabaisse and my French lineage but…the truth is, the word just got stuck in my head. A few days ago out of nowhere. Bouillabaisse. Bouillabaisse.

In fact, before today I couldn’t even tell you what went into the recipe. Just one of those things that sounded super fancy to me in the 80s and kind of fell off the radar.

But I became intrigued and did some intense research (uh, google image search). A Provençal fisherman’s stew, a bit spicy, usually served with crusty bread and rouille. OK, well, count me in.

For my vegan version, I had two main goals — replicate the fishiness and retain that eclectic fancy rustic-ness. For the sea flavor, I decided on my old stand-bys: chickpeas and just a little crumbled nori. And for garnish, a few briny capers. Easy enough!

To mimic the pretty shapes of the shellfish that poke out of the stew every which way, I decided to go with yellow squash, cut into half moons. Since sometimes boiled summer squash can get mushy, I opted to roast the squash and toss it in at the end. Forgive the fussiness, but well, sometimes a little extra work produces great rewards. The roastiness brings a lot to the bowl.

In most of the photos I saw, I noticed that although the stew was brothy, there was a lot of stuff floating around, likely from flakes of fish. But I decided to throw in a handful of red lentils to give the broth some interest and boost the flavor even more.

For the rouille, I decided to…oh wait, what’s that you say, what is rouille? Well, duh, it’s a peppery mayo! How could you not know that?

For mine, I basically followed Julia Child’s recipe (she uses almonds, although many recipes call for breadcrumbs) and threw in a little Ina Garten (that’s the dijon mustard.) Now, of course bread and spread are options here, the stew is filling enough on its own, but please if you’ve got the time, make the rouille! It was so rich, cozy and decadent, and really just the thing for dipping into the stew on a blustery winter afternoon.

And there you have it. A vegan bouillabaise that even a French fisherman would love. OK, fine, a French fisherman would probably laugh at me and call me terrible things in French. But still. It’s still totally delicious.

Recipe Notes

~ Since yellow squash tapers at one end, you can simply slice the narrowest part into discs. Then cut the rest in half lenghtwise and make 1/4 inch thick cuts widthwise to create the halfmoons. You can use zucchini instead, if you like!

~ I love the flavor that fire roasted canned tomatoes bring to the party, but use only the tomatoes, not the juice. You can reserve that for another soup another time! It freezes well in a small plastic ziplock. I just grab the tomatoes out of the can and crush them in my hands right into the pot. But if you don’t feel like being savage, you can chop them on a cutting board, too.

~ One average sized naval orange should get you enough zest. Use a microplane grater and eyeball the amount. It’s too frustrating to actually measure a teaspoon of zest, in my opinion.

~ If your nori is incredibly fresh, you should be able to crumble it in your hands. But sometimes, even if the package has been open for only a few days, the nori is too pliable to crumble. In that case, roll it up and chop into tiny pieces with a chef’s knife.

~ I roasted the peppers for my rouille while the squash was roasting. That made it super easy to pull together.

~ Most recipes call for saffron. I didn’t have any, but if you do, congratulations Warren Buffet! By all means, throw some in.

2 average sized yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch thick half moons
Olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (one bulb should be enough)
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
24 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes, tomatoes only, chopped (see note)
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup red lentils
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon salt
1/8th teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
Several dashed fresh black pepper
1/2 sheet nori, crumbled into tiny pieces
5 cups vegetable broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 25 oz can, rinsed and drained)

For garnish:
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Fennel fronds

To serve:
Toasted bread

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the yellow squash with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. When oven is preheated, roast for 10 minutes, then flip and roast for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from oven and set aside. In the meantime, prepare the stew.

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute fennel and onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil with a pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the chickpeas, cover pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and leave the lid ajar so that steam can escape.

When potatoes are tender and red lentils are cooked, about 15 minutes, add the chickpeas and turn heat to its lowest setting, cooking uncovered for 15 more minutes. This is so that the potatoes don’t overcook, but the lentils have more time to turn mushy and the flavors can develop even further. Add up to an extra cup of vegetable broth if needed, to keep the stew brothy. Cook this way for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and let stew sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Taste for salt and seasoning. Remove the bay leaves and thyme springs before serving.

To serve:
Ladle stew into bowls, top with roasted zucchini, capers, fresh parsley and fennel fronds. Serve with toasted bread spread with rouille.

  • February 17, 2013 at 4:50 pm: tofulish

    Oh wow! I miss bouillabaisse and this sounds amazing!

  • February 17, 2013 at 7:45 pm: Gina

    I love this post, and love that you’ve endeavored to veganize such a French classic (your chutzpah is showing, which is why we love your recipes ). I love the sound of this recipe. As soon as I can get my hands on some fennel tomorrow…can’t wait! Also, can’t wait to make this for my French vegetarian and vegan rellies. Merci mille fois for putting so much thought and creativity into this.

  • February 17, 2013 at 11:06 pm: narf7

    Oh MAN this looks so good!!! What a degustatory event of a meal this would be even if you were only eating it from a tray whilst watching “Swamp People” with Lizabeth and Troy Landry…not that “I” would be doing that of course, silver service all the way for THIS little black vegan duck…but just sayin’…

  • February 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm: Mattheworbit @ James and Matt

    This looks really good. I know the Francophiles will complain but then again they’re so busy trying to be authentic that they kinda miss the point. Love the fact that you did so much research and put together something so thoughtfully. Would love to be served this in a restaurant!

  • February 17, 2013 at 11:43 pm: Vinny Grette

    I get it – no seafood in yours. I’ve been enjoying variations on the seafood kind but would be happy to add all these delicious veggies to the pot. Just not sure if it would be “instead.” ?

  • February 18, 2013 at 10:46 am: Sarojini

    This looks beautiful, and I think the care you took to get the ingredients, flavours and look just right is perfectly in tune with the French attitude to food and cooking…c’est magnifique, super, formidable! :)

    • February 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm: IsaChandra

      Hee, well that is good to know at least!

  • February 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm: Kzcakes

    Someone got kicked off top chef this season for bad bouillabaisse!

    • February 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm: IsaChandra

      Aw, this is the only season I’ve missed, I think!

  • February 18, 2013 at 9:04 pm: sarahj

    One of my favourite things about Isa’s recipes is how sub-friendly they often are. I wanted this bad but didn’t have a lot of the ingredients. I subbed celery for fennel, fried zucchini for the roasted squash, dried thyme, tomato paste with a handful of fresh cherry toms thrown in, and skipped the nori. Still amazing.

  • February 19, 2013 at 9:49 am: Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack!

    What crazy attention to detail you have! It’s awesome! I love how your stew turned out, and to me, it looks (and probably smells) a million times better than some fishy soup.

  • February 19, 2013 at 11:48 am: Karen

    What about roasted delicata squash slices (with the skin)? Not quite so mushy and somehow even more ‘shrimp-like’ in appearance.

    • February 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm: IsaChandra

      Great idea, sounds totally delish! I even notice that the delicata from my garden has a sea-like flavor. Not so much the storebought but still.

  • February 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm: Lynx

    Hey! In Norway I cant buy fire roasted tomatoes on a can, but it’s pretty easy to DIY right?

    • February 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm: IsaChandra

      I’d just use a few whole fresh tomatoes then.

  • February 20, 2013 at 2:13 am: Julia

    Ugh WOW this was fantastic!!! I subbed onion and a couple of star anise for the fennel, and I used purple potatoes because that’s what I had. I also used dried thyme instead of fresh. Incredible.

  • February 20, 2013 at 5:41 am: theliteratesims

    Another delicious recipe! I made it this evening. I’ll definitely be making it again when I have some friends over to share it with :-).

  • February 21, 2013 at 1:30 am: Z

    This was AWESOME. Fennel is pretty much the only vegan food that I can’t stand, so I subbed celery to great effect. I added a pinch of aniseed for a little licorice overtone without the gag-fest that fennel induces in me, which was perfect.

    Isa, you cook vegan food the way I like to eat it! After 10 years of veganism, I keep coming back to your recipes for maximum flavor with relatively simple ingredients/techniques. My omni partner is almost always reduced to moans when I cook from your recipes. Thank you!!

  • February 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm: marla

    Love this! Linking back to this post in an upcoming FFC post :)

  • February 22, 2013 at 4:12 pm: Jennifer

    Isa- I love reading your commentary and your recipes are so spot on; so happy to have found you!! Thank you for sharing so much of yourself :)

    • February 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm: IsaChandra

      Aw, thanks!

  • February 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm: Josee

    OMG! I need to quit my job to have enough time to make all your amazing recipes. This is making my mouth water.

  • February 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm: Sharon

    Made this the other day and it’s delicious! I like it more each time I eat it. I subbed 1 teaspoon kelp seasoning for the nori and salt. I did not make the rouille but it’s great with French baguette.

  • February 26, 2013 at 9:48 pm: Jill

    How did you know there was a yellow squash in my fridge needing to be cooked?

    • February 26, 2013 at 11:05 pm: IsaChandra

      I KNOW ALL. Even that old jar of olives all the way in the back that you need to toss.

  • February 27, 2013 at 2:05 am: Jill

    I made this tonight and after we ate, the husband pronounced “this is a keeper.” I didn’t use nori because it was tres expensive, and I spent too much time in the store staring at the nori, seaweed, kombu, kelp and other pricey green things in cellophane wrap trying to figure out the difference. Note: the latin names didnt help unravel the mystery.

    Didn’t matter, still delish. Served with garlic bread.

  • March 2, 2013 at 12:16 am: Sofia

    I made this tonight. It was quite good and warming- the capers really made this dish. The only thing I did differently was omit the cayenne pepper because I could not find canned fire roasted tomatoes sans chiles. And I forgot to strain the juices from the can, so perhaps it turned out more tomato-y than it was supposed to. That may also be the reason why I missed the nori in the base. But now I have lunch for the weekend, so who cares?

    Thanks, Isa!

  • March 2, 2013 at 12:43 am: KatiePage

    Took a risk, and made this for lunch guests. It was a lovely meal. My new friends especially loved the rouille on warm baguette, and I rounded it out with fresh cut fruit. Just a lovely and filling meal.

  • March 2, 2013 at 1:09 am: Sofia

    Ok. I’ve already posted tonight but… something must have happened between the time I ate this and an hour or so later when my mom ate it, because I am watching her (meat eater) dig into this like she’s eating the last vegetables the earth will every grow. She’s not much of a soup lover, much less a veggie soup lover, but she’s told me at least three times now that it’s the best soup she’s ever had and that I should sell this. O_O

    …thank, Isa. This dish may just be pivotal in my family’s conception of veganism.

    • March 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm: IsaChandra

      “dig into this like she’s eating the last vegetables the earth will every grow.”

      Haha, thanks!

  • March 5, 2013 at 2:42 am: Lisa

    Thanks for this recipe, my French husband loved it. I served it with croutons instead of toast, with a big dollop of the Rouille in the middle. It was *wonderful*

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm: Ann

    Where are the chick peas? How much? etc
    My boss is vegan and I work for vegan organic cafe so he want’s his protein for customers!

  • January 2, 2014 at 9:50 pm: Pam

    Isa, this knocked it out of the park. Ooh, la, la, I love it!

  • August 28, 2014 at 6:41 pm: designs for modern single-storey detached Houses

    І’m often to blogging and i really apρreciate your website.
    This content articlе has really peaks my interest. I want
    to bookmark your site and keep checking for brand
    spanking new information.

  • September 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm: Allison Farnum

    YUMMM! Used celery for fennel and kombu for nori. Not very of-the-sea tasting but still a delicious stew! The roasted squash and caper/parsley garnish on top is KEY!

  • October 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm: Vegan's girlfriend

    Vive Bistro and Bakery! Are you ever going to post YOUR NEW ADDRESS, anywhere, or is it a secret? We can’t log into social network sites at work, so you need to get yourself listed with yelp and etc, etc! It’s not on your crowd fund page. CAN’T FIND VIVE ON THE WEB. Its not there. ~ K

  • August 20, 2015 at 4:49 am: April

    Thank you for giving me a delicious and unique way to use fennel! (:

  • November 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm: Birdsong

    I purchased some fennel and yellow squash that needed to be used right away at the vegetable market for 99 cents each. I was thinking stir fry, but I did a search and found this recipe. I had just about everything on hand and am delighted with the outcome. What synchronicity. Thanks for this creative recipe. I don’t think I would have ever thought to garnish soup with capers.

  • February 8, 2016 at 11:04 pm: Jessica G.

    THANK YOU. I am a long-time vegetarian (25 years!) recently beset with a dairy intolerance. You’d think the switch from veggie to vegan would be easy. It should be easy. But it turns out cheese is/was my crutch. Anyway, I’ve been eating my way through your site for a few months now, and while everything has been good, this is spectacular. I’m now off to order “Isa Does It” so I will have more options. You are simply brilliant.