According to the chefs of Marseilles, France, true bouillabaisse can be found only in their little corner of the Mediterranean, but this summer stew is inspired by their trademark dish. You may substitute other varieties of fish and shellfish in this recipe as needed.
In a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, celery, and saffron in olive oil until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, Tabasco sauce, and water. Simmer together 8 minutes longer. Add mussels, clams, shrimp, fish, parsley, thyme, and orange peel. Simmer together until fish flakes easily and clams open. Chop lobster meat, if used, and add to pot with salt and pepper; cook until lobster is just warmed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in large bowls with sliced fennel sprinkled over top. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve with toasted garlic bread.