Repe is a creamy soup made with green bananas, onions, garlic, milk, cheese and cilantro. It is a traditional soup from the province of Loja, in Ecuador. Green bananas are a challenging ingredient to find in the US or Europe, I’ve been lucky enough to find them a few times, but most times what looks like a green banana has actually already ripened and cannot be used to make this soup. However, green plantains are much easier to find, and even though I recommend making this soup with green bananas, if you are not able to find them, I am including the amount of green plantains to use as a replacement. The green bananas give the soup a more subtle taste and satiny texture than you get with green plantains, however repe is also delicious when made with green plantains and the taste will be very close to the authentic repe that you would be served in Loja.
One my best friends and former high school classmates shared this repe recipe with me several years ago, she also gave me some tips to make sure that this green banana soup was a complete success: first, when you are peeling the green bananas – or green plantains – make sure you peel and cut them under running water to keep them from darkening and to keep their sticky sap from sticking to your hands. Another tip from Marialicia is to only add the diced green banana or green plantain to the water while it is boiling, she recommends doing this in batches and to let the water re-boil in between adding each batch – the reason for doing this is too keep the bananas from darkening. Finally, she recommends that you add salt at the end or when the green bananas are fully cooked – also to prevent them from darkening.
Repe is served with avocado slices, cheese slices and aji on the side. Like many other traditional dishes, there are different variations of this soups, one of the most famous is called arvejas con guineo and includes split peas. There is another version made with potatoes that is known as repe mestizo. If you or your family have a different variation, I would love to learn more about it and try it out.

Recipe: Repe lojano or green banana soup

Summary: Repe is a creamy soup made with green bananas or green plantains, onions, garlic, milk, cheese and cilantro.

Ingredients

  • 10 green bananas or 6 green plantains, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 oz of cheese: quesillo, a fresh farmer’s type cheese – can also use queso fresco or mozzarella
  • ½ cup of milk or cream
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped – about ½ cup already chopped
  • 8 cups of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Sides – Avocado slices, cheese slices and aji or hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in large soup pot, make a refrito or base for the soup by adding the diced onion and crushed garlic, cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the diced green banana or green plantain in batches, making sure that the water is boiling when you add each batch – to keep the bananas from darkening
  4. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the bananas or plantains are soft, about 15-20 minutes. It will take longer for the plantains to cook than the bananas.
  5. In the same pot, gently mash some of the bananas pieces to help thicken the soup.
  6. Crumble the cheese and add it to the soup
  7. Stir in milk or cream, cilantro and salt
  8. Remove from the heat and serve with slices of avocado, cheese and aji or hot sauce.