Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Learn How to Make ‘Cretan Kakavia’ at Home: A Delightful Greek Fish Soup

Published: May 20, 2024
Kakavia is a traditional Greek fish soup, named after the kakavi, a three-legged cooking pot used by both ancient and modern Greek fishermen. (Image: Manos Angelakis/LuxuryWeb Magazine)

Published with permission from LuxuryWeb Magazine

Kakavia is a traditional Greek fish soup, named after the kakavi, a three-legged cooking pot used by both ancient and modern Greek fishermen. Originally, the soup was made from small fish, often referred to as “garbage fish” by Greek fishermen, caught in seine nets. These fish were combined with olive oil, onions, celery, potatoes, pureed tomatoes, and saffron.

Today, slices of large white-fleshed fish, shrimp, calamari rings, clams, mussels, and other seafood are often added, especially in islands like Crete and Rhodes, where Venetian influences on local culture and gastronomy make kakavia similar to Italian cioppino.

(Image: Manos Angelakis/LuxuryWeb Magazine)


  • 2 lbs. white-fleshed fish (such as black or red snapper, grouper, sea bass, pike), scaled, cleaned, and cut into thick, large pieces
  • 1 lb. small fish (such as small scorpion, gurnard, red sea robin), scaled and cleaned
  • Clams, mussels, and other seafood, if desired
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • A generous pinch of saffron
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 7-8 cups of water


  1. Place the water, whole small fish, and fish pieces into a pot and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the large white fish pieces to a platter and allow the small fish to continue boiling until the fish flesh practically dissolves. Strain the broth to catch the fish bones, returning any flesh caught in the strainer back into the stock. Discard the bones and reserve the stock and smaller fish flesh in a bowl.
  3. Wipe down the pot and add the olive oil, onion, garlic slices, and celery. Cook over medium heat until soft.
  4. Add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the pureed tomato and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  6. If using, add calamari rings and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  7. Dissolve saffron in a cup of warm fish stock and add it to the reserved stock.
  8. Add the stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  9. Carefully remove the bones and skin from the larger fish pieces and discard them, then add the cooked flesh to the soup.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  11. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges and toasted bread.

If using clams and mussels, add them to the soup after the stock is added to the vegetables and cook until the bivalves open. While this version is popular in Crete and Rhodes, the traditional mainland Greek version omits the bivalves and other seafood, using only the fish and vegetables. Enjoy!

Visit LuxuryWeb Magazine to see the original article and more.