Kakavia (Traditional Greek Fisherman’s Soup) Served on a Fishing Boat

This recipe for success has less to do with measuring ingredients, and more to do with where we are: on a boat off the coast of Naxos.

So what if we’re rocking back and forth? The pot remains firmly in place on the top of the stove, as if on a gyroscopic burner. The A/K “Panagiotis” is dancing to the rhythm of the small waves on this May morning, somewhere off the coast of Naxos. The crew has earned a few hours’ break from casting nets, here on the eve of summer in the midst of the Aegean, and it’s time to get cooking.

Captain Panagiotis Sorokos selects the still-flopping fresh fish for the soup. “I imagine that you’ve never tried this type of kakavia [traditional fisherman’s soup)] before, in a floating restaurant like this one, with such a variety of fish taken directly from the sea?”, he asks, much like a chef speaking to a distinguished guest.

Today’s ingredients are three scorpionfish, three John Dorys, four weevers, one comber, one forkbeard (which goes perfectly with the scorpionfish), two mackerel, three small hakes and one monkfish – between three and four kilos in total, enough for about six servings.

With and ingredients sourced from the waters of the Aegean and the soil of Naxos, the captain plays the role of a passionate chef, working on a table that’s really an upside-down crate, but with fabulous sea views.

Into the steaming liter of water where the fish are cooking, he throws in 6 chopped potatoes, 3 roughly chopped, medium-sized onions, one glass of olive oil, and salt and pepper, and then lets things take their own course for 25 minutes. It’s 8 o’clock in the morning; and the soup will soon take the place of breakfast, a nutritious treat for my belly which is, surprisingly, unfazed by the relentless rocking.


Five minutes before removing the pot from the heat, he adds the vinegar; the fishermen are already gathering, ready to divvy up the soup.

This article was first published in Greece at gastronomos.gr.

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