Greek Fisherman's Soup Recipe (Kakavia)

Getty Images | Credit: Jason Loucas
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
598 Calories
30g Fat
52g Carbs
36g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 39%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 110mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 103mg 514%
Calcium 99mg 8%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 1641mg 35%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you are a Greek fisherman, this recipe for kakavia (in Greek: κακαβιά, say: ka-kahv-YAH) makes sense. However, for those of us that are not, let us explore this recipe.

Imagine being a fisherman and you find yourself out all day long. Catching whatever you can to bring back and sell. You are not picky. If it makes money, you are trying to catch it. After everything's said and done, you have a variety of fish and nothing to eat. What do you do? You make fisherman's soup!

You can add in all your different kinds of fish, some potatoes, and veggies, and some water and you have your base. Now, it’s just a matter of seasonings and perfecting it. Nothing is wasted, and that is key. At the end of the day, you used all you caught, and not only that—but you are filled. Thus, you are a happy Greek fisherman. A very happy one indeed.

Kakavia, Greek fisherman's soup, is a classic Greek dish. Often compared to the French bouillabaisse, any Greek will tell you that it's tastier and easier to make! Traditionally made with the catch of the day, this dish is made with a selection of fish and seafood that can be changed with the seasons, as long as the fish are fairly small and suitable for boiling. You will need a large piece of tulle (or a similar piece of fabric) to wrap the ingredients.


  • 8 cups water

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 small tomato

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces

  • 3 to 4 stalks celery ribs, sliced

  • 6 medium potatoes, cleaned and peeled

  • 3 small zucchini, cut part-way through lengthwise

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 lemons

  • 3 ounces lobster, optional

  • 1 scorpionfish, gutted and scaled

  • 1 stingbull, gutted and scaled, handle with care

  • 1 cod, gutted and scaled

  • 3 ounces grouper

  • 1 comber, gutted and scaled

  • 1 medium fillet (6-ounce) painted comber

  • 1 medium cuttlefish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large pot, add all soup base ingredients except zucchini and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Boil over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, then add zucchini.

  3. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

  4. In order to prevent pieces of spine and bone from getting into the soup, wrap whole fish loosely in a piece of tulle and secure.

  5. Add fish, lobster (if using), and cuttlefish (if using), to the soup base. When boil resumes, cook for 20-25 minutes, uncovered.

  6. 5 minutes before cooking time is up, add lemon juice.

  7. Traditionally, the whole fish, other seafood, and vegetables are placed on a large platter, and the soup is served separately in a tureen or individual soup bowls.

Note: For a similar soup using larger fish, see Greek Fish Soup - Psarosoupa.