John Besh's third cookbook chronicles the New Orleans-based chef's development with recipes inspired by the Black Forest of Germany, Mediterranean Provence, and Louisiana. The cookbook, which collates more than 140 new recipes, ranges from the preposterously refined (rabbit in gelée with chanterelle salad) to the down-home (basic shrimp stock). This Bouillabaisse with Rouille recipe from Besh's mentor Chris Kerageorgiou pays homage to the classic recipe, with adaptations made to accommodate local Gulf Coast fish.

(Serves 8)

• 1/2 lb monkfish, cut in pieces
• 2 6- to 8-oz filets red snapper, skin on, scaled, cut in pieces
• 4 whole porgies or croakers, gutted and scaled
• 1 lb cod or hake filet, cut in pieces
• 4 tbsp olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper
• 2 pinches saffron
• 1 branch fresh thyme
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 leek, chopped
• 1 fennel frond, chopped
• 3 tomatoes, chopped
• Soupe de Poissons (see recipe below)
• 6-8 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
• Rouille (see recipe below)

1. On a large platter, combine the monkfish, snapper, porgy, and cod with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, cayenne pepper, saffron, thyme, salt, and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes.

2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the leeks, fennel, and tomatoes, and sauté until soft. Add the Soupe de Poissons and the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are almost cooked.

3. With the soup at a bare simmer, add the marinated fish, first the whole porgy, then the pieces, and gently poach until they become translucent, 7–10 minutes. Remove the poached fish and the potatoes to a platter with a slotted spoon. Strain the soup and serve in soup bowls with dollops of rouille. The fish and potatoes can be added to the soup bowl or enjoyed separately on a plate.

Soupe de Poissons

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 12 small blue crabs, crushed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 fennel bulbs, chopped, stalks reserved
• 1 leek, chopped
• 1 stalk celery, chopped
• 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
• 2 lbs fish heads, gills removed
• Cloves from 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 pinches saffron
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 6 tomatoes, quartered
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• Salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Alain's Bouquet Garni (see recipe below)
• 24 baguette rounds
• Olive oil
• A few cloves garlic, peeled
• Grated cheese such as Gruyère

Making soupe de poissons is an adventure on many levels. This soup is bright with the flavors of just the right ingredients that come from wherever you’re making it. The process is important, too, adding those ingredients at just the right moment. Knowing that it’s pretty much impossible to find the tiny rockfish or the Mediterranean favouille crabs that Alain uses in his soup, it is the spirit of his soup that I replicate in this recipe. Our blue crabs mimic the flavor of favouilles. Sure they’re different, but no less authentic in America. I find a deeper flavor results from crushing the crabs in a plastic bag with a meat mallet to catch every bit of luscious juice. In Alain’s kitchen, he passes the finished soup through a strainer and saves the fish solids. Those he puts in a pot, covers with water, and simmers into a flavorful broth for poaching white fish.

1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the crushed crabs and stir until the shells turn red, about 10 minutes, toasting the crabs to bring out the flavor. Add the onions, chopped fennel, leeks, celery, and fennel seeds and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the fish heads, garlic, saffron, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes. Add water to cover the fish by 1 inch. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Once the soup comes to a boil, add the fennel stalks and the bouquet garni. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, skimming off the foam as it rises to the surface, until the soup is rich with the flavors of the fish and vegetables, about 1 hour. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer or chinois into another pot. (Consider retaining the solids to make another poaching liquid.)

3. To serve, brush the bread with olive oil and toast on both sides. Rub the toasts with the peeled garlic, top with generous dollops of rouille, and place in the bottom of soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the toasts, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve. 


This intense, creamy peppery sauce is traditional with Bouillabaisse and all fish soups. Alain makes his by hand in an ancient olivewood mortar and pestle. Not everyone is lucky enough to have those; a whisk and bowl will work well – just make sure the garlic is finely chopped before you begin. The Moroccan harissa Alain uses lends its signature rusty color. It can be very spicy, so use as much as you like. (You can substitute chile paste.) I like my rouille to be so hot my head sweats.

• 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• Salt
• 3 generous pinches saffron powder
• 2 egg yolks
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• 2 cups olive oil
• 2 tbsp harissa

1. Crush the garlic with a healthy pinch of salt in a large mortar or bowl until you have a smooth garlic paste. Add the saffron and continue to pound.

2. Now use a whisk to whip together the luscious paste, adding the yolks and lemon juice. Whisking vigorously, slowly add the olive oil. Once the mixture comes together, add the harissa. Season with more salt. 

From 'Cooking from the Heart: My Favorite Lessons Learned Along the Way' by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing. [October 29, 2013, Andrews McMeel Publishing, hardcover; $40.00]