Fish soup, kakavia

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kakavia - eat yourself greek

Greece being a sea-faring nation, fish and sea-food comes often in the cooking spotlight. We have a fish soup called kakavia. Traditionally, kakavia was prepared by fishermen on the boat. Once they were done fishing, a meal would be prepared with whatever they had at hand: an onion, a potato and the humblest of their catch, keeping the best for the market. Kakavia is more of a concept than a recipe. In line with the Greek cooking practices, you have very few but very fresh ingredients and you make an extraordinary meal almost out of nothing.

Head straight to the recipe

kakavia - eat yourself greek

Kakavia is not a fisherman’s only privilege, it is very popular with households too. The soup requires more than one type of fish, and there are two ways to go. You can either use a large, meaty deep water fish of the grouper family or smaller, thorny fish that go on the market for a very low price. There is no set type of fish to use, just what is in hand or more precisely at the fishmongers.

kakavia - eat yourself greek

Here is a list of some Aegean treasures that are excellent in soup:

Large and meaty (deep water) fish:

  • Dogtooth grouper, βλάχος
  • Dusky grouper, ροφός
  • Common seabream, φαγκρί
  • White grouper, σφυρίδα
  • Common dentex, συναγρίδα
  • Mottled grouper, πίγκα
  • Goldblotch grouper, στήρα

There is a chance you find the guys above a little pricey. For the soup you can use head or tails, they come very cheaply and add some smaller, more affordable fish in the pot:

  • Small red scorpionfish, σκορπίδια
  • Hake, μπακαλιαράκια
  • Large-eye dentex, μπαλάδες
  • Greater weever, δράκαινα
  • John dory, χριστόψαρo
  • Comber, χάνος
  • Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, γύλοι
  • Streaked gurnard, καπόνι
  • Stargazer, λίχνος

kakavia - eat yourself greek

A myth

Using brackish water to cook the soup. This is not a good idea! Even at sea, just a small amount of sea water is used to salt the soup, go for the safe option of salt.


  • 1 kilo 2-3 different types of fish, I used hake, stargazers and streaked gurnards
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large potato
  • 2-3 medium carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • salt and pepper to taste

kakavia - eat yourself greek

What to do

  1. Cut the potato and onion in four and your carrots in large pieces.

  2. Add in the pot with a litre of water the carrots, potato, onion, celery.

  3. Boil until the vegetables are soft, approximately 20-25 minutes.

  4. Remove the vegetables and add the fish in the pot.

  5. They should cook within 10 minutes.

  6. Serve vegetables and fish  in the broth with a bit of lemon.

kakavia - eat yourself greek

This is a very basic soup and of course you can add any fish or sea-food you like. Do you have a favourite fish or sea-food for your soup? Let me know in the comments.

from Athens with love


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6 thoughts on “Fish soup, kakavia

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser says:

    Florida-USA is known for deep sea fishing! All of our Seafood is fresh daily. There is a place near to our Local Fresh Seafood Market where you can watch the boat return with the days catch and see the fishmongers in action! All very affordable. Cheryl x

    • Eugenia says:

      Lovely to hear about your markets. I am more excited about deep sea fishing though! what a wonderful thing, I hope I will be able to get out there myself at some point.

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