Arvejas con guineo, also known lovingly as arvejitas con guineo, is a typical soup from the province of Loja in Ecuador. This soup is made with green bananas, peas, onion, garlic, cumin, achiote, cheese and cilantro, and is served with avocado and hot sauce. If you never had this soup before (or green bananas in a soup) it might sound odd, but trust me this is one of the best soups you will ever taste, and it is extremely easy to make, probably the most difficult part is finding bananas that are very green, and while you can replace the green bananas with green plantains, which are easier to find, and the flavor will still be good, I think a true “lojano” (which I consider myself to be) can tell the difference. Also be careful as sometimes you can find green bananas but the bananas are actually almost ripe, a banana that is truly green should a more difficult to peel than a semi-ripe green banana and should be very starchy and hard, also green bananas can stain clothes very easily so watch out for that.
In Loja a cheese called quesillo is used for this soup, quesillo is a very fresh cheese, barely a few days old, I recommend using a mozzarella or cheese that melts well and that doesn’t have an overpowering flavor so that it can blend well with the flavors of the soup. Another cheese which is added to soups in Ecuador is called queso de sopa and it is a very crumbly soft and salty cheese, I use feta cheese because it has that saltiness and also blends in well with this soup. Dried peas are used most of the time for this soup, but sometimes it is made with fresh peas, in which case you would cook them with the green bananas; if you do use dried peas you can use the water the peas cooked in instead of the water for the soup.
1 lb dried split peas (about 2 cups)
6 green bananas, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
2 tbs olive oil or sunflower oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium sized finely chopped white onion (about 2 cups)
½ tbs ground cumin
½ tsp ground achiote
6 cups water
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup crumbled or grated mozzarella
1 cup milk
4 tbs finely chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Serve with: Hot sauce and avocado (diced or sliced)
- Cook the peas according to package instructions in water and salt until tender, if desired reserve the broth the peas cooked in to add to the soup (instead of water).
- Heat the oil over medium heat to make a refrito, add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, cumin, achiote, and salt, cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft
- Add the water or broth from the peas, bring to a boil and add the diced green bananas, simmer until the green bananas are soft, about 20-25 minutes.
- Add the cooked split pea, stir well and cook for 5 minutes
- Add the cheese and milk, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped cilantro and serve with avocados slices and hot sauce.