Fanesca ecuatoriana: Ecuadorian Easter soup

Fanesca or Ecuadorian Easter soup

Fanesca is a very traditional soup from Ecuador and is a special soup or stew because it is only prepared once a year during Easter. Fanesca contains a variety of different grains, some of which are found only in the Andean highlands of South America, and in general it is made with fresh grains, of course it is very hard to find fresh grains in the US and Europe, so they can be replaced with either frozen grains in the case of the fava beans, green peas and lima beans or dry grains in the case of the cannellini beans. Ecuador has an amazing variety of porotos or beans and unlike other places you can get these beans fresh, most of the time in the pods and then you peel them and cook them, the taste of cooked fresh beans is unbeatable.

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Fanesca or Ecuadorian Easter soup
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Yield: For ~25 people

Fanesca or Ecuadorian Easter soup

Recipe for fanesca, an Ecuadorian soup or stew made only during Easter. 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
  • Empanadas de viento or Ecuadorian 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.

Fanesca can be made with a lot of different types of beans, habas or fava beans are used pretty consistently for this dish, I used a combination of lima beans and alubias or cannellini beans, but the other choices are limitless, some people prefer to use red beans or a combination of red and white beans, some people add all the grains they can find, I have seen this prepared with lentils, garbanzos, split peas, mote or hominy, among others, so it really varies from one home to another. Sometimes mellocos, which are small and very starchy Andean potatoes, are also added; another key ingredient are chochos, also known as tremoco or lupini beans, these used to be very hard to find but now you can find them either in jars in brine or dried, they have a thick skin and need to be peeled (similar to fava beans, but the skin is a lot tougher). All the grains are cooked separately, except for the chochos or lupini beans, which are added during the last 5 minutes, the rice should be cooked in a lot of water, so that it comes out very tender, it needs to be soft and moist enough to make a puree by mashing it.

Chochos with the skin on Peeled chochos

A key ingredient to fanesca is the bacalao seco or dried salt cod, it needs to be soaked for 24 hours and doing this properly is very important as you don’t want the salt cod flavor to overwhelm and make the soup bitter. The cod is cooked in milk and then based on how much taste of it you want “infused” in the soup, you can either add the milk and the cod to the soup or you can drain the cod and add only the milk, you then fry the fish and serve on the side or on top of the soup, my personal preference is to have the most subtle taste of salt cod in the soup, so I fry it separately; if you are trying this soup for the first time or are serving this to fanesca virgins then you might want to do this as well. Of course I know some super hard core fanesca fans that not only add the cod, but also add save some of the water it was soaked in and add that to the soup.

Ecuadorian fanesca or Easter soup

This soup can be quite complex to make as it involves several different steps, the good thing is that quite a lot of the preparation can be made in advance as most of the ingredients are cooked separately and added together (and you only make it once a year). The very traditional fanesca is only made with milk, no water should be added, but for a lighter version you can also reserve the broth where the vegetables where cooked and add that in place of some of the milk. Also the soup should be very thick but if you feel it is too thick you can adjust by adding more milk (or broth).

Fanesca with side dishes

And of course, side dishes are very important and this soup must be served with slices of hardboiled eggs, fried ripe plantains, slices of queso fresco, slices of hot peppers or a good Ecuadorian hot sauce, white onions marinated in lime juice, and empanadas de viento or fried empanadas. These last empanadas are sometimes replaced by masitas or just the empanada dough shaped into small balls and fried. Fanesca is usually followed a dish of Ecuadorian mashed potatoes called molo. Finally, the proportions I have below are for enough soup to feed at least 25 people.

 Fanesca recipe

Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian fanesca

Squash for fanesca Grains for fanesca preparation

Preparing Ecuadorian fanesca Fanesca

Fanesca Fanesca sides

Ecuadorian fanesca soup


This post was last modified: August 18th, 2016 by Layla Pujol


  1. I shared your recipe! love your blog! :)

  2. hello – I’ve been married to my Ecuadorian husband for 20yrs. and I’ve never attempted this plate. I’m planning on making this on Good Friday and I want to know what is chocho beans and where can I find them? I live in Palm Beach, Florida. Also, can I use mozzarella cheese instead of feta?
    Gracias :)

    • Chocho beans are also known as lupini beans, you can buy them online and also at some grocery stores (usually in the section where they have olives/pickles in jars). It’s fine to use mozzarella cheese (queso fresco is also a good option).

  3. Hi, thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ve lived by your site for years to cook for my Ecuadorian husband, but his mother, the real chef, is finally in town. Is there a place you can suggest to find bacalao in the Seattle/Eastside area? Thank you!

    • Most grocery stores have bacalao/salt cod, it’s usually in the frozen seafood section. For sure you can find it at Metropolitan Market (got it there last year) and also at Uwajimaya.

  4. Gloria Bonilla says:

    Ecuadorian to the max! I plan to prepare Fanesca. Wish me well!

  5. Hi There, I don’t need to serve this to 25 ppl, so if I 1/4 it, will it still turn out okay?


  6. What type of drink is recommended to serve along with Fanesca? I’ve noticed wine is not really a good option. Any ideas?

    • Hi Karen – In Ecuador, fruit juices are the most common drink to have with fanesca. Though now some places include a glass of wine in their fanesca menu offerings, and personally, being married to a French guy, I do enjoy a glass of white wine (would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc or Picpoul) with fanesca. And my brother likes to drink beer with his fanesca…

  7. Fmlia Moscoso - Ugarte says:

    Mi esposa y mi suegra hicieron esta receta y les quedo riquisima, sustituhimos el platanito maduro por patacones fritos y quedo lo maximo. La segimos con cafecito filtrado con pan de dulce y listos para la siesta.

  8. Margarita says:

    Hice su receta al pie de la letra casi ya que añadi chickpeas :) y el
    Pescado no encontre bacalao pero just cod fish vivo en Alemania y por eso se me hizo dificil encontrar ciertos ingredientes como el Pescado pero aun asi la receta me salio deliciosa y mi novio y su familia que son alemanes quedaron encantados :) ya que fue la primera cena que hice para ellos :) mil gracias x su receta continuare haciendo mAs platillos

  9. Dechklen says:

    Que riccccccccccccco yo estoy muy ambre!!! Delicious i am very hungry!!

  10. Laylita,
    I am going to make this for my parents and Ecuadorian family for the first time. I have a few questions that would help me make this a success for viernes Santo.
    For the beans would it be best to used dried beans or are canned beans just as good for this soup? Should I also use whole milk or 2percen? I know everything is according to taste, but what do you recommend?

    Hi Silvia – If you have time to soak and cook the dry beans I would do that, they always taste better than canned beans. I use whole milk, the milk helps add richness to the soup, however it will still be delicious with 2 percent.

  11. Gabriela says:

    I have attempted to make fanesca. So, this would be my first time making it. We’ll see how that goes. I just wanted to go back to my Ecuatorian roots, and do something different with my family this year. I thought the fanesca tradition was well explained, and the recipe looks authentic. I will leave more feedback once I make it.


  12. Tim Jansing says:

    I’m planning to make this soup for my son’s scout troop since it has an ethnic and religious significance (diversity project). Plus it sounds good.
    I simply cannot find lupini beans anywhere locally, and don’t havd time to order. Do you gave a substitution suggestion? On line queries indicate favas, but they’re already in the mix.

    Also can I substitute crowder peas for peanuts (allergy issues)? Never used them, but they look about right.

    Thank you very much.

    Hi Tim – You can leave out the peanuts if there are any allergy issues. You can also substitute any grains with ones that might be easier to find.

    Tim Jansing
    BSA T243 Louisville, KY

  13. Melinda says:

    Thank you so much for providing the history and recipe for this soup. My husband and I sponsor a child in Ecuador and she just sent me a letter explaining that her Mother with help, prepared this soup for their Easter celebration. It was wonderful to be able to see photos on your site and understand how she celebrates Easter in her country. It will truly make her happy when I send her a photo of me and my husband eating this soup made with your recipe. Thanks again!

  14. Fernando says:

    Gracias por la receta!! habia pasado casi 6 años sin comer fanesca y extrañaba muchisimo, finalmente con esta recete me anime a prepararla yo mismo este año y quedo muy bien!

  15. UHHHHHHHHHHHHHmm yumi yumi delicioso.

  16. Hi Laylita. I just discovered your blog and i’m so happy I did. My family is from Ecuador, Quito and Rio Bamba but we now live in Miami and I’m so sad that I don’t get to eat much Ecuadorian food here. Anyway, I’m so glad I found your recipe for fanesca. Every single Ecuadorian I know in the States have no idea what fanesca is!! But its a must-have every Easter for my family…We even freeze it so we can enjoy it weeks later. I have been dying to know where I can buy queso fresco or humitas in the US. Does anybody know?

  17. ever since i married an ecuadorian, (i’m swedish) i have made fanesca every year,since we left ecuador. i find all the ingredients in the states, and it comes out just wonderful.. i include encurtidos also, red hot peppers and scallions. my mother in law always cooked the legumes separately,which i changed a bit,boiling them together,which she would not accept. that was the only time we ever had a disagreement
    fanesca aficionada

  18. Quespues says:

    Oye laylita,

    Por tu culpa acabo de pecar EN VIERNES SANTO. Es que prepare esta fancesca y comi a lo BESTIA y por eso no puedo ir a misa tampoco. Maldita la gula y la laylita por formentarla.

    Hombre arrepentido

  19. SUSY MARIN says:

    Estoy muy feliz el haber encontrado un articulo muy representativo, de nuestra tradicional FANESCA ECUATORIANA, es uno de nuestros maravillosos pltos tipicos de mi lindo ECUADOR.

  20. Mario Mancheno says:


    Muchas Gracias-

    cada ves que vamos a un restaurant Ecuatoriano en NYC la comida es mala, guardada ( no fresca) y cara.
    No me importa pagar lo que sea por la comida pero si esta es buena y deliciosa como las recetas que ud pone en el web, te agradesco mucho ya hemos echo muchos de los platos con mi esposa y nos salen de chuparse los dedos.
    muchas gracias!!!


  21. Jessica says:

    I love fanesca and my mom always made it but I now live in VA and have not had her fanesca in many years. She is visiting this Easter and I plan on making fanesca. I will write back afterwards to let you know how it goes.

    Thank you.

  22. This is my first time making the fanesca and this recipe was made for me, my mom will be sooooo surprised.

    Thank you

    Im so excited I will write back ones Im done making it

  23. Delicioso!!!
    I hope one day to eat it again!!!

  24. Monica Maria says:


  25. Hi Ami, I think you are totally right about this recipe; is absolutely great!

    I’m a Ecuadorian food fan as well and I’ve been trying to find out where does the ceviche originated? as you say there are some people trying to take credit (or did already). Would you help me with some info about the origin of ceviche?

    thank you and hope to hear from you.

  26. Hi, I want to thank you so much because I’ve been looking for a fanesca recipe for a long time. All I know of my Ecuadorian heritage is the food….and oh boy is the food delicious. This soup is definitely one of my favorite Ecuadorian dishes along with the ceviche (which by the way originated in Ecuador. There are some people trying to take credit for this but I’ve done my research).
    I most definitely will try this recipe and again thank you.

    Oh and this message is for Monica who posted a comment some time ago:
    I was wondering if you could post your vegan version of the fanesca, I have vegan friends who I’m sure will love this soup. I would so appreciate it. Thank You.

  27. Tereza says:

    I have just discovered your site….I am not one to ever post on the internet (mostly for being a coward)… but, I must write you that your website is absolutely beautiful…. pure enjoyment. I appreciate the nostalgia!
    I am looking forward to enjoying your recipes with my family!

  28. you need a cookbook deal…

  29. Thank you very much for the history of this soup and the recepie. I had this soup at a friends house and loved it. The explanations and pictures you give are great. Thank you. I made it without the fish or any eggs or milk to make it a Vegan version and it came out fantastic. My family enjoyed it and we were not hungry afterwards.

  30. Unbelievable. I’m speechless….

    Amy @

  31. This soup is fantastic! The “receta” is almost perfect! (Of course each house has their own rules, I never add rice) Excellent description and pictures.

  32. delicioso

  33. gracias por mandar la receta por que es la sopa mas deliciosa y se hace solo en ECUADOR

  34. This soup is delicious

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