In the Soup – celebrate Easter Ecuadorian-style with a Fanesca

AUTHOR The Ecoventura Team

In many countries around the world, Easter these days is associated with chocolate. Chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, even chocolate filled with more chocolate, it seems there is no end to this chocolatey madness. But whilst we here at Ecoventura aren’t averse to the sweeter things in life – our chocolate brownie is a thing of beauty, after all – here in Ecuador people celebrate Easter slightly differently.

Celebrate with soup

For many in Ecuador, the Easter week – known across Spanish-speaking Latin America as Semana Santa – wouldn’t be complete without the hearty Fanesca soup, typically enjoyed over the Easter weekend after a week abstaining from meat.

Prepared exclusively at this time of year, Fanesca is deeply symbolic, whilst also being superbly tasty. The main ingredient is bacalao – dried salt cod – with the fish representing Jesus. Accompanying the fish are an assortment of grains and vegetables – typically 12 different ones to represent Jesus’ 12 disciples.

Throw in various other ingredients such as boiled eggs, plantain, perhaps fried bread, cheese and peanuts, and you have a delightfully rich soup, bursting with flavours and locally grown produce.

Enjoyed across Ecuador, in street markets, restaurants or with family at home, Fanesca is a crucial ingredient to enjoying Easter Ecuadorian-style.

Fanesca for all

To help you give your own Easter celebrations an Ecuadorian edge, we have listed the recipe and cooking instructions below, courtesy of

The recipe below serves 25 – this is a meal to be enjoyed with the whole extended family!


– 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. When done, cut the cod into medium sized pieces.

2. Cook the diced butternut squash and zucchini separately. Cover with water and cook until they are tender. Drain the water and place them in a blender to 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 a 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. Meanwhile fry the fish 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. Taste the soup and season if needed.

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 melt in to the soup.

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.

Leave it to the pros

Of course, cooking isn’t for everyone, and with a Relais & Chateaux menu – we are the only Relais & Chateaux vessels in the Galapagos, after all – bursting with wonderful flavours and full of healthy, locally sourced ingredients, it may be that you would rather let our chefs do the cooking for you.

So please do contact the team, come on board, and enjoy our culinary delights for yourself!