Celebrate with “Fanesca”

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During lent, many Ecuadorians abstain from eating meat for the week of Semana Santa. When the fast ends on Saturday they celebrate with friends and family and plenty of fanesca.

Fanesca - easter soup

Fanesca is a traditional and special soup of Ecuador that is only prepared once a year. The main ingredients are grains, squash and salted cod fish. A total of twelve different grains are used (which represent Jesus’ disciples) and salted cod, the fish symbolizing Jesus.

Recipe for Fanesca: Ecudorian Easter Soup

Yield: For 25 people

This soup is made with bacalao or salted cod, squash, fava beans, chochos, corn, peas, porotos or fresh beans, rice, onions, garlic, cumin, achiote, peanuts, milk, cream and cheese.


    • 2 lbs bacalao seco or dried salt cod
    • 6 cups of diced sambo or fresh squash (zucchini), about 2 ½ lbs
    • 6 cups of diced zapallo or squash, about a small sized squash butternut squash
    • 2 cups of shredded cabbage
    • 4 cups of cooked and peeled fava beans
    • 4 cups of cooked corn kernels
    • 3 cups of cooked green peas
    • 2 cups of cooked lima beans
    • 2 cups of cooked alubias or cannellini beans
    • 2 cups of chochos or lupini beans, peeled
    • 2 cups of cooked rice (cooked in abundant water and very tender)
    • 8 tbs butter
    • 1 tsp of achiote or annatto powder
    • 1 cup of diced white onion
    • 1 cup of diced red onion
    • 10 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 tbs of ground cumin
    • 1 tbs of dry oregano
    • 1 tsp of ground pepper
    • 2 cups of roasted peanuts
    • 12 cups of milk
    • 1 cup of heavy cream
    • 12 oz of cream cheese
    • 1 cup of feta cheese
    • ½ bunch of cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
    • Salt to taste
Serve with:
  • Hardboiled egg slices
  • Fried ripe plantains
  • Fried cheese empanadas
  • Hot peppers slices
  • Aji criollo hot sauce
  • Curtido de cebolla blanca or white onions marinated in lime juice
  • Queso fresco or fresh cheese slices
  • Avocado slices


  1. Soak the salt cod in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours, each time the water should be less and less salty, at the end cut the cod into medium sized pieces (if it doesn’t come already cut).
  2. Cook the diced butternut squash and zucchini separately, with a barely enough water to cover them, cook until they are very tender, drain the water and place them in a blender or food make a puree.
  3. Boil the shredded cabbage with a small amount of water for about 3 minutes, drain and add the cabbage to the squash puree.
  4. In a large stock pot or soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat to make a refrito or base for the soup, add the onions, garlic, achiote, cumin, oregano and pepper and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the refrito and mash it into the refrito with a potato masher to make a thick sauce or puree.
  6. Add the squash and cabbage puree and mix well.
  7. Add 4 cups of milk and the fava beans, corn, green peas, lima beans and cannellini beans, stir in well and let simmer for about 15 minutes, stir frequently to avoid the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Meanwhile bring 6 cups of milk to boil, add the soaked and desalted cod, and boil for about 10 minutes.
  9. Add the milk and cod to the soup or if you don’t want the soup to have the strong salted cod flavor then strain the milk and add only the milk to the soup, reserve the fish, fry it in oil until browned on each side and serve on the side or place a piece of the fried cod in each individual soup bowl.
  10. At this point you want to taste the soup and add salt if needed, how much you need will depend on the whether you add the salt cod to the soup or not (as well as how well you soaked and rinsed the cod).
  11. Blend the roasted peanuts with 2 cups of milk, add this to the soup, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  12. About 5 to 10 minutes before serving, add the chochos or lupini beans, the heavy cream and the cheeses, stir to help the cheeses dissolve.
  13. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and stir well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  14. Serve with the pieces of fried salt cod (unless they were already added to the soup), hardboiled egg slices, lime marinated white onions, fried ripe plantains, slices of queso fresco, fried cheese empanadas, avocado slices or cubes, and Ecuadorian hot sauce or slices of hot peppers. These can be added on top of the soup or on the side.

and lastly, Enjoy!!

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