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Also called psarosoupa, kakavia is a type of Greek soup that includes both fish and shellfish. So named because it traditionally is cooked in a type of pot called a kakavi, kakavia is an ancient soup, dating to at least 600 B.C. Although this soup contains vegetables, fish and shellfish, the exact types and quantities of each are extremely varied.
Traditionally, kakavia was a fisherman's stew. After a day's catch, the crew of a fishing boat would take some of the catch to prepare a meal. These original versions used seawater as the liquid base, but now salted water is normally used instead. Dry white wine is also frequently included in modern versions. Although the fish stock usually is made when the soup is made, pre-prepared fish stock can be bought as well.
Vegetables used in kakavia often include leeks or onions, celery, parsley and carrots. Potatoes and tomatoes are often added as well. Seasonings such as garlic, bay leaves, pepper and dill are frequently included as well. Other spices, such as allspice berries, thyme, peppercorns and saffron, might be added for a more complex taste. Sea salt is recommended, but regular table salt can be used.
A whole fish is also included in kakavia. Traditionally, scorpion fish is used, but many types of fish can be substituted. Red snapper or sea bass generally are recommended. The entire fish is often first used to create the stock, then the meat is returned to the soup during cooking. Fish fillets, of any type of fish, might be included in addition to the whole fish.
Shellfish are the final element in kakavia. Clams and mussels are popular additions. Shrimp and occasionally eel might also be added. Traditionally, all the seafood elements are fresh.
To prepare kakavia, the fish stock is first created. The spices, along with the fish and possibly shrimp shells and eel, are boiled in water. Afterward, all the solids are strained from the liquid, and the broth is replaced into the pot. The meat is then removed from the fish bones and can be included in the soup. After it is complete, the broth, or stock, is set aside.
The celery and onions are chopped and sautéed in olive oil. Then, the other vegetables are added. After all the vegetables are included, the stock or broth is added, along with the fish meat. The soup is allowed to simmer, then herbs, lemon juice and shellfish are added. Kakavia usually is served with crusty bread.