Kakavia (Greek Fisherman’s Soup)

It’s been a long time since I last cooked Kakavia, or Greek Fishermans Soup, and a recent dinner with a beautiful family who are in our circle of closest friends, reminded me how delicious this soup is so I wanted to share it with you, but we’ll get to the recipe later.

Although the soup we ate at the dinner wasn’t kakavia, it was very similar and just as delightful. Kakavia is a very old recipe and its name is derived from the kakavi, the tripod cooking pot used by ancient Ionian fishermen.Boulliabaise2Kakavia is similar to other types of Mediterranean fish stew, such as the French bouillabaisse, Italian cacciucco, Spanish zarzuela, & Portuguese caldeirada.

Greek fishermen who were out at sea would use the ‘catch of the day’ to make kakvia for their dinner that night. They would use the small fish or pieces of whatever they had caught to make it. They would also use whatever they didn’t sell.

If you love seafood, then this is a dish you must try. The stock is fresh, light and full of flavour creating the perfect base in which to cook your favourite seafood to create a deliciously satisfying dish.IMG_3263 copyCatching up with these friends is always a joy and this occasion was no exception. It was the perfect summer’s evening to dine outdoors under their beautiful old trees. The table setting out on the lawn looked inviting with an array of food, including a very delicious bouillabaisse.

As always, a selection of spectacular wines and cheeses selected personally by our host accompanied the meal perfectly. The cool, crisp, fruity wines complimented the fresh summer flavours of the food so well that it made it very difficult to refuse a second and third glass!

Writing this post got me thinking about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful circle of friends and family. To me having a few good friends is more important than having lots of fleeting friends, but these days it seems social media encourages us to think about friendship in terms of quantity rather than quality.

Just take a look at Facebook where the main focus is how many ‘friends’ you have. If you have lots of friends, then you must be a socially successful, happy, well-adjusted person – right?  A greater number of friends equals a better social life – doesn’t it? Personally, I don’t feel this way.

Over the years, I have met many amazing people who have walked in and out of my life. There is however, a group of people I call my closest friends. These are people who mean a great deal to me because they have been in my life for a very long time and have shared many of my happiest and saddest times.

These are people I have spent countless hours cooking meals to share together and who in turn have done the same for me. They are people that I can easily pick up with from where we left off, even if we haven’t seen each other for ages. They are people I can talk to and who will listen without judgement when I need an ear. These are people whose friendship matters greatly, because they make my time on this beautiful earth so joyful and we all know the time we have is so short. Well, that’s how I feel anyway!!!Fishermans soup and potWhat you need

  • 2kg of your favourite selection of good quality fresh fish and seafood (cleaned). I prefer whole small fish for their extra flavour, but firm fleshed fish fillets such as cod or snapper also work. Seafood such as prawns, crab, mussels, clams, squid, lobster are all perfect for this soup.
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 white onions – sliced
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 5 medium very ripe tomatoes – grated, skin discarded (or tinned chopped tomatoes)
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley – finely chopped

Serves 4 – 6

What to do

To make your life easier, ask your fishmonger to scale and gut the fish and clean the seafood when you buy it. If you use crab, chop it in half (or large pieces if it’s a big one) and crack the claws before cooking it so it’s easier to get the crabmeat out later.

Heat the oil in a large pot on a low-medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions have softened without browning.

Add the saffron to the wine and stir, then add it to the pot and stir through. Cook for 2 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt and pepper – stir through, then add 10 cups of water. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes

Add the fish and simmer gently for a further 20 minutes.

Remove the fish carefully onto a plate and allow to cool slightly. Strain the remaining contents into a clean pot to catch any fish bones.

If you used whole fish, remove the flesh and check for any bones. Return the flesh to the soup and add all the seafood. Allow to gently simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the seafood has cooked. Add the lemon juice 5 minutes before cooking time is up.

Sprinkle with parsley to serve.