Kakavia (Mediterranean Fish Soup)
The weather right now in Athens is very confusing. Sunny hot one day and cold windy the other. The truth is we didn’t really go through winter and it hasn’t rained much this year, which is not very good for the farmers and their land. Today has been a cold day and what goes better on a day like this? The answer is SOUP! But what kind of soup?
Well, with summer here and our minds drifting off to sandy beaches, under the hot sun, we decided on fish soup.
I started eating fish soup six years ago, until then it was the ONLY food that I didn’t eat. The reason for this was the nursery I went to when I was four in a small Cretan village outside Chania. The rules were simple enough: “you can leave the table when your plate is empty”. So with tears running down my face, I would sit and eat the most dreaded soup I’ve ever had.
The problem was that I didn’t understand what I was eating. So many different colored things floated on my plate and my imagination went wild. I was always the last to leave the table.
Fifteen years later I would make myself my first fish soup, making it one of my most favored dishes today…
The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. It requires no particular cooking skill and it can be made in no time at all. The key to a successful fish soup comes down to the freshness of the fish and the seafood you use. In our recipe we chose a dusky grouper and a scorpion fish, but you can substitute with any fish like cod, snapper, sea-bass or shi drum, without having to make any adjustments to the initial cooking instructions.
When visiting local fish markets in Greece, you can sometimes find really good prices for fish that have been caught by accident in the fisherman’s net. They are usually small fish like rainbaw wrasse, comber and saddled sea-bream. These fish don’t have a lot of flesh, but give amazing and deep flavor to soups. Sometimes you can ever get them for free.
In our case, we were lucky enough to get two beautiful crabs for free! We use shrimps and crabs to enhance the flavor of our soup, but if you have seafood allergies, you can substitute with bio ready-made fish stock or just keep it simple and skip the seafood altogether. In any case, this is a MUST-try recipe!
Note: Do not forget to remove parsley and celery when you puree the vegetables. Taste is still great, but your fish soup will turn out green.
Serves 6 / Prep time 1h 20 min.
1 dusky grouper, gutted and scaled (1.75 pounds)
1 scorpion fish, gutted and scaled (10.5 ounces)
12 small shrimps
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
0.25 gr. saffron
2 bay leaves
7.5 cups cold water
½ bunch parsley
½ bunch celery
5 carrots, cut in medium cubes
4 zucchinis, cut in medium cubes
2 onions, quartered
2 potatoes, cut in medium cubes
3 lemons, juice only
Put the dusky grouper, scorpion fish, crabs and shrimps into a big pot.
Add the pimentos, parsley, celery, bay leaves, olive oil and saffron.
Season and cover with the cold water (water should just cover the fish).
Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil.
Set to medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove carefully the dusky grouper and the scorpion fish with a slotted spoon and transfer them in a big platter.
Strain the fish stock and discard the rest of the boiled ingredients.
Add the carrots, zucchinis, onions and potatoes into the big pot and season carefully.
Pour in the fish stock and cover with the lid again.
Bring to a boil.
Set to medium heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Meanwhile, remove carefully the flesh of the fish and transfer to a warm platter.
Discard any bones and unpleasant skin.
Cover the platter and keep it in the oven.
When the vegetables are soft, remove the pot from the heat and uncover.
Carefully puree your soup with the aid of an immersion blender until smooth.
Pass the soup through a sieve into another pot for a more velvety texture.
Add the lemon juice and taste.
Season according to your preference.
Serve the soup in bowls, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
Add some olive oil and lemon juice to the fish and serve at once.
The Greek food blog COOKOUVAGIA was given life by Vassilis and Anastasia for the love of Greek food.
Cookouvagia (ku.ku.’va.jia) greek for owl, was the sacred bird of goddess Athena. She was the patroness of Athens in whose honor the city was named after; and it’s where we call home!
Be sure to visit their blog at www.cookouvagia.com and read all the exciting things they’ll share with you from their Athens homebase!