Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

30 min Cook
Scroll to recipe

This fish soup recipe has deep roots in my family going back over 100 years.  My paternal grandfather was in the fishing business on Lesvos Island.  He had a fishing trawler and the Aegean Sea was his office.  

Although his exact birth year is not known for sure, we believe it was around 1887.  My grandfather Ignatios, I’m honored to have his namesake was a good businessman during an era of 2 wars and the Greek-Turkish population exchange.  Having a boat during the war was beneficial as our family always had food.  My family was fortunate and blessed because of my grandfather and his business.  (Check out the story of Greek Keto here)

St George boat

My grandfather’s boat, The Saint George Boat pictured here in the Port of Mythimna. It’s the only boat with visible writing. Η ψαρότρατα του παππού μου, ο «Άγιος Γεώργιος» εικονίζεται εδώ στο Λιμάνι της Μήθυμνας. Είναι το μόνο σκάφος με εμφανή γραφή.

St. George boat in Kavala

Here is the Saint George with my dad’s two elder brothers, Uncle Constantine, and my uncle Emmanuel in the Port of Kavala, which is today about a 2 hour drive east of Thessaloniki. Εδώ είναι ο Άγιος Γεώργιος με τα δύο μεγαλύτερα αδέρφια του μπαμπά μου, τον θείο Κωνστα, και τον θείο μου τον Μανο στο λιμάνι της Καβάλας, που είναι σήμερα περίπου 2 ώρες με το αυτοκίνητο ανατολικά της Θεσσαλονίκης.

In order to catch the freshest fish, they would start early, before dawn in order to bring back the best fish.  They would also go on longer journeys depending on the type of catch.  During these trips, they would bring food with them that was not perishable. Ingredients that could last without refrigeration were onions, carrots, potatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I remember my father saying the most basic fish soup, or Kakavia would be fish, onions, potatoes, and carrots if they were lucky.  Otherwise, they would rely on a variety of different fishes to enhance the taste. 

They would use the freshest fish they caught that day to make the most delicious fish soup ever.  The key would be to use multiple types of fish that would create the most amazing taste.

variety of mixed fish

I’m keeping things simple by using boneless fish filets, however, you can use the whole fish if you prefer.  Ask your fishmonger to remove the scales, and to remove the intestines. This recipe is a simple fish stock that can be used for other types of soups like Shrimp or Lobster Bisque. 

I start by boiling carrots, celery, onions, black peppercorns, sea salt of course, and a bay leaf

Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

The end result is a flaky, buttery fish that is so simple, yet has an amazing taste.  Just add olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and black pepper, and you have a humble meal.  

Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

The Bouillabaisse or the broth is also simple and delicious.  To fully taste and feel what the old fishermen experienced, add some red wine vinegar instead of lemon, salt, & black pepper and enjoy this amazing and simple soup.  

Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

You can combine the fish and soup, but for some reason, I enjoy the fish in a separate dish which allows me to enjoy this wholesome, simple and humble soup. 


Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

Fish Bouillabaisse (Kakavia)

This humble soup is a basic fish broth that is packed full of flavor. You can certainly eat the carrots and celery along with the fish that cooked to produce this amazing Bouillabaisse.
prep time
15 min
cooking time
30 min
total time
45 min


  • Dutch Oven or

  • Stock Pot

  • Spider Strainer or

  • Skimmer


  • 1 celeary stalk

  • 1 onion

  • 1 carrot

  • 15 peppercorn

  • 1 Bay Leaf

  • 1 Tbsp salt

  • 10 cups water

  • 1 lb. fish filet (about ½ kilo)


Wash your fish filets. Set aside.
In a stockpot or Dutch oven, add your water, celery, carrot, onion, peppercorns, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Boil for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, add your fish filets. Boil for 5 more minutes.
Remove the vegetables and fish from the soup and set aside.
Serve your soup hot, with the vegetables and fish, or serve on the side.
Enjoy! Bon Appetit! Kali Orexi!


You can either add the cooked vegetables and fish directly to the soup, or you can eat them separately. If you eat the fish separately, then drizzle some olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice, along with salt and pepper.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *