Biche (or viche) de pescado or fish soup

Biche de pescado or viche de pescado fish soup

En español

This soup is called biche de pescado, also known viche de pescado, and is a typical soup of the province of Manabí, but is served all over the coastal region of Ecuador. It has been quite some time since I’ve had this delicious fish soup, it’s very thick, almost a stew, and the contrast of flavors is amazing: fish, yuca or cassava, sweet plantains, sweet corn, peanut, onions, garlic, spices, and cilantro. Preparing this soup brought back so many memories, especially when I got to the point where I could start smelling the final result it (and even more as I tasted it), it’s one of those soups that is so good and comforting, if you’ve ever had it before you’ll remember the taste just by thinking of it or looking at a picture of it, and if you never had it before, try it, you will not be disappointed, it will become one of your favorites. There is something about soups in Ecuador, we take them very seriously, probably because we eat them almost every day, when I go to a restaurant in Ecuador it isn’t a questions of whether to have soup but which soup to have, but anywhere else (US, Europe) that I’ve been unless there’s a strong recommendation for the soup I usually don’t order soup, even at home I need to eat soup at least once a week.

Biche or viche de pescado Ecuadorian biche soup

Additional vegetables, such as squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, and other types of beans, are sometimes added to this fish soup. For a summer soup I prefer it a little bit lighter and am not adding more than the essential sweet plantains, yuca, and corn. Biche de pescado can also be made with shrimp (biche de camaron) instead of fish or a mixed version that includes shrimp and fish, they’re all very good. The soup is prepared using a quick homemade seafood broth, which is usually made with fish heads, unfortunately I arrived at the fish market at little bit early –and apparently the best time to find fish heads is after 3pm – so instead of making the broth with fish heads and bones, I bought a small ¾ lb trout, cut in a few pieces and used it to make the broth. You can also substitute with store bought seafood stock or just use plain water instead. Most of my dishes always have a few side dishes, but this is one of this really simple ones, lime or lemon slices are a must have, and hot sauce is optional, I like it with hot sauce, but my husband thought the soup was so good and the flavor was perfect that it didn’t need hot sauce, I took this a compliment since it came from a guy who doesn’t really like peanuts that much and is a huge hot sauce consumer.

Biche fish soup

Biche de pescado or fish soup

Yield: For 6-8 people

Biche de pescado or fish soup

Biche de pescado, or viche de pescado, is a traditional Ecuadorian soup made with fish, peanuts, yuca, sweet plantains, corn, and other vegetables and spices.

Ingredients

    Fish and peanut broth
  • ½ - ¾ lb fish heads and bones, or use a small whole fish
  • 8 cups + 2-4 cups water, adjust based on how thick you want the soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup peanuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbs sunflower oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • Fish soup
  • 2 lbs white fish fillets (halibut, monkfish, ling cod, sea bass, etc), cut in medium sized pieces
  • 2 tbs butter or oil
  • 2 cups chopped red onion, about 1 whole onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced, about 1 cup
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • ½ tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tsp achiote or annatto powder
  • 2 tbs plain peanut butter, unsweetened
  • 1 ½ lb yuca or cassava, peeled and quartered, fresh or frozen
  • 2 very ripe plantains (the ones that are starting to get black), sliced in about 10 rounds per plantains
  • 2 corn ears, cut into 6-8 small rounds per ear of corn
  • 2-3 finely chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • To serve:
  • Lime slices and hot sauce

Instructions

    Fish and peanut broth
  1. Bring 8 cups of lightly salted water to boil, add the fish heads, bones and other pieces, boil for about 30 minutes or until the pieces begin to come apart, strain the broth.
  2. Heat the 2 tbs of oil over medium heat to prepare a quick refrito, add the onions, garlic, cumin and salt, cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Blend the lightly toasted peanuts with the refrito, the milk, and 2 cups of the fish broth, blend until smooth.
  4. Strain the peanut, milk, refrito and broth mixture and mix with the remaining fish broth plus 2-4 cups of cold water.
  5. Fish soup
  6. Heat the 2 tbs of oil over medium heat; add the chopped onions, garlic, pepper, achiote powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and cook over low heat until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the fish peanut broth and bring to a gentle boil.
  8. Add the corn, the yuca and the 2tbs of peanut butter. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes or until the yuca is cooked.
  9. Add the plantain slices and the fish chunks, cook on low heat until the fish is cooked, about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve warm with lime slices.
http://laylita.com/recipes/2008/06/16/biche-de-pescado-or-fish-soup/

 

Fish soup preparation Fish soup preparation

Fish soup preparation Corn for fish soup

Cassava or yuca for fish soup Cassava or yuca for fish soup

Ripe plantains for fish soup Ling cod for fish soup preparation

Preparation of biche de pescado soup Biche de pescado or fish soup preparation

Fish soup preparation Fish soup preparation

Biche de pescado or fish soup Fish soup with plantains, yuca and corn

Biche de pescado Biche de pescado or fish soup

Comments

  1. Do you know how I could get corn like the corn in Ecuador? It is not sweet, and is super starchy, but I love it a lot. :-)!!!!

    My in-laws retired to Cuenca and when we visited them, we traveled to Macas and went to the jungle. Loved all the food everywhere we stopped, esp the soup!!!! I have tried a lot of kinds of food and there is just something about Ecuadorian food, it is complex and simple at the same time.

    Also, tree tomato’s, God I miss those, and from what I have found, you can only really get frozen puree here in the states. Which I guess is fine for most recipes. :-)

    What a great website you have, I can’t wait c to make some of the recipes!!! If not all of them!

    Hi Amy – Sometimes I can find choclo style corn at the Latin grocery stores. It’s usually frozen, either in kernels or on the cob.

  2. The fish soup looks absolutely delicious!!

  3. hey from manabi!
    i suspect that a few more people will visit for more information about viche/biche. you do an amazing job with all of your recipes, and i look forward to every post!

    http://playamart.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/v-is-for-viche-specialty-soup-of-manabi-ecuador/

    lisa

  4. Lourdes says:

    I cooked this recipe and I loved it. The procedure was very easy to follow. Thank you so much for the pictures.

  5. Thank you Laylita , I made this recipe last week and it was a delight. My husband was so impressed, that I have been learning to make his favorite Ecuadorian meals. Tonight I will try another one your your dishes.

  6. from korean parents, i born in ecuador stumblem upon this website trying to find anything ecuadorian. oh how happy i was! came to the states when i was 10yo so i only remember flavors but not the actual cooking. i’m making this soup right now… and OMG, it’s delicious and just the way i remember it. thank you!!!

  7. Tom Perry says:

    Laylita –

    I just returned from a month long visit to Ecaudor. I was so fortunate to have been placed in the hands of a local Ecuadorean cook who served me this biche at the home of a friend in Casa Blanca. It was my first meal there, and it was fantastic. Having lived in Mexico and Venezuela, I was absolutely stunned at the rich variety of Ecuadorean dishes that I think of as “comfort food” because they convey a wonderful sense of contentment after eating them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your site. The patacones, aji, and others brought them to life again.

  8. Richelle says:

    Excellent soup! Added an ethnic flair to my Good Friday. Took about three hours to make but well worth the wait. I’d highly recommend it to anyone in search of something full of flavor. I think next time I’ll use one plantain, thinly sliced, rather than two. Two was a little over powering for me. Wish you the best in your attempts! :)

  9. Hi Laylita,
    I visited Ecuador for the first time for two weeks for our church mission trip and I just love the foods! I love the Biche de Pescado a lot. I found your website and I am excited to find the recipe here. Your photos really make it so easy to follow. I am planning on making the dish for my party this weekend and I can’t wait! Thanks so much.

    Joy

  10. Laylita i am so happy, i made this soup today. came out great. You are really good explaining every detail. Since i know about your website, i cook more often. Gracias……

  11. Quedo riquisimo con salmon, la combinacion con el Mani fue perfecta. En Alaska comemos salmon muy seguido y el cambio fue muy bueno. Yo le agregue dos cucharadas de harina de platano (que me trajectory de Ecuador ) y le dio la espesura perfecta!

  12. Priscilla says:

    Hoy pesque 3 silver salmon! asi que lo voy a intentar y te cuento como quedo.
    Solo espero (pequeno milagro) que tengan maduros en el Safeway!
    Gracias denuevo… =)

  13. Priscilla says:

    Laylita,
    soy de la costa de Ecuador pero ahora vivo en Alaska.
    Tu crees que el biche salga bueno con Salmon?
    Es lo unico que encuentro aqui! Salmon y Halibut.
    Gracias por hacer una pagina tan increible! Mi esposo te agradece por que gracias a ti, cocino mas seguido! =)

    Hola Priscilla – Preparalo con Halibut (el halibut es sea bass, igual que la corvina). Aunque tambien creo que quedara rico con salmon aunque no lo he intentado.

  14. Let’s ignore the soup. Let’s ignore the memories.

    What a novel way to present the basics and fine details to a recipe.

    Fantastic job.

    [my story is i emailed the link today to my quito/cuencan wife and i have just spent the most enjoyable day in recent to mid memory [my kids are 15/16 :)]

    So; before I even finish preparing this wonderful dish I say thank you.

    If I mess it up it is certainly; only, my fault.

    Congratulations on a great concept. [webpage; i know you did not invent the soup :) ]

    djw
    canada

  15. esthersita says:

    Wow!! I’m so excited to make this soup, all of your other receipes remind me of my visits to Ecuador and my family’s cooking. I hope I can use these to remind my family of our great memories, thank you so much! Now I can make it myself and not have to drag everyone to the Ecuadorian Resturants!!

  16. Ummm que rico, se puede substituir la leche de vaca por leche de coco o soya tambien!!!

    You can also substitute cow’s milk for coconut milk or even soy milk!!!

  17. This is an amazing soup. I am from central america… but have a lot of ecuadorian friends. I learned how to make it and can never get sick of it . Give it a try !

  18. Thank you so much for these recipes! I only jotted down the recipe for this biche when I left Ecuador and who knows where that is…? Thanks!

  19. Awesome soup! Its perfect as is, but I’m now itching to take a Thai spin on this… some fresh green curry paste for the dry spices and coconut milk for the cows milk. I’ll have to give it some thought… I don’t want to take out too much I kinda want a East/West blend.

  20. I did this soup yesterday and tasted delicious!! It was funny, when my husband saw the soup he was like: “I’ve told you I don’t like bouillabaisse soup!” And this soup has for sure nothing to do with it… anyway he loved it as much as I did, even though the taste was kind of sweet since sweet corn is the only one you find here in Austria… I’ll leave that out next time…

  21. qué rico por Dios! Sabes que entré a tu block buscando inspiración para maniana, y la encontré jeje tengo que hacer esta sopa Layli, me encanta!

  22. Unbelievably beautiful and extremely delicious sounding. I am saving this one!

  23. I LOVE this recipe and look forward to making it. I love the ingredients — plaintain, yams and corn — oh my! ;-)

    Paz xxoo

  24. You have been nominated for an award… Please visit my blog for more info!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  25. Jenni – my kids loved this soup, they love sweet plantains so that was an incentive for them, I also let them help with the preparation (stirring the soup, peeling garlic, peeling the plantains) and it seems that whenever they get to “help cook” they are more likely to eat it.

    Rosa – Gracias, tu blog es super chevere, se me hace agua la boca cuando veo todas las delicias que preparas.

    Rosa – Thanks, definitely try this soup (we finished it yesterday and I’m already thinking about making it again).

    Emily – That’s funny, I have a salmon recipe that I’m going to post in the next few days, so I’ll send it.

  26. This sounds (and looks) amazing! I love the addition of plantains. Do you have any great salmon recipes? We’re having a salmon recipe contest and awarding the winner with 15 Pounds of Wild Salmon … the only downside is that the prize can only be sent w/in the U.S. But we’d love to have you share a recipe regardless! Check out the contest at http://marxfoods.com. And if you have salmon-loving family and friends, please pass this on – the deadline is this Friday, June 20.

  27. What a great speciality! Your dish looks extremely tasty and so attractive! I’m keeping that recipe…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  28. Me encantan tus recetas, tus fotos… Maravilloso!!!!!!!!!!

    Un saludo

  29. This dish looks delicious! It reminds me of similar dishes that I ate while living in Costa Rica, thanks for sharing! Hmmm, I wonder if I could get my kids to try this soup ;)

  30. Hi Erin – Lucky you living in Costa Rica! The milk is actually not an essential ingredient, I’ve had it just with the broth or water and it’s just as good.

  31. I can’t tell you how excited I am to make this soup! I live in Costa Rica, so all of the ingredients are readily available and inexpensive, and my partner is lactose-intolerant… with a bit of lactose-free milk, this looks like an amazing meal for the two of us. Absolutely delicious, thank you so much!

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