Traditional fishermen’s soup

Traditional fishermen’s soup


Lyndey and Blair's Taste of Greece
Chris Chen

Kakavia is traditional fishermen’s soup, as cooked on the fishing boats. Any fish except oily ones are used — even fish half eaten by larger fish — as it all adds to the mix. Greece is blessed with wonderful olive oil, so fishermen are liberal with it in this soup – add to your taste. While red onions are traditional, white or brown give a more subtle colour to the soup.


Quantity Ingredient
1 litre fish stock, (see Lyndey’s note)
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
600g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1–1.5 cm dice
2 red or white onions, finely sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste
2kg mixed whole fresh fish
torn flat-leaf parsley, extra, to taste
6 slices stale country-style bread, cut into halves
or 3 bread rolls, cut into halves


  1. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and add the carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, parsley and oil. Top up with water if necessary to cover the vegetables. Simmer over a medium–low heat for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to soften.
  2. Add the larger fish and cook gently for 5 minutes, then add the smaller fish and cook for a further 5 minutes. It is important that the fish are not overcooked, so they remain whole and do not disintegrate.
  3. Carefully remove the large and small fish with a slotted spoon. Debone, discarding the bones. If you prefer, save some of the small whole fish to place on top as a garnish.
  4. Add the fish flesh to the stock and vegetables and reheat gently. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the extra parsley. Place a piece of bread in the bottom of each individual soup bowl and ladle over the soup.

Lyndey’s note

  • To make your own fish stock, put 1 kg white fish bones and heads in a large stockpot with 3 slices lemon, 1 peeled and quartered brown onion, 1 small carrot, 1 bay leaf, a few black peppercorns and some parsley stalks, then pour in enough cold water to just cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming occasionally. Strain and use as needed.
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