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Traditional Fanesca

An Ecuadorian specialty, fanesca is traditionally prepared and eaten during the week before Easter. This hearty soup features bacalao (salted dried cod) along with a variety of legumes and vegetables. Fanesca is especially popular in Ecuador’s mountainous Andean highlands, where the country’s indigenous produce abounds.

Traditional Fanesca



  • 6 oz (170 g) salted cod
  • 2⅓ C (600 ml) milk
  • 1 T (15 ml) olive oil


  • 1 C (156 g) cabbage, shredded and blanched
  • 1 T (15 g) butter, divided
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) water
  • 4½ C (600 g) sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3¾ C (900 ml) chicken stock
  • ¼ C (45 g) yellow onion, chopped
  • 1½ T (15 g) shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 T (3 g) fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • Turmeric, paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano and ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ C plus 1 T (138 ml) heavy cream
  • ½ C (72 g) corn kernels, cooked
  • ½ C (72 g) peas, cooked
  • ½ C (48 g) fava beans, cooked and peeled
  • ½ C (90 g) cannellini beans, cooked
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lime Marinated Onions:

  • ¼ C (30 g) yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ tsp (4 g) hot red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ C (60 ml) lime juice
  • 2½ tsp (3 g) fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 T (3 g) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt to taste


  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced in thirds
  • 6 thin slices buffalo mozzarella
  • 12 slices peeled and pitted avocado
  • 6 slices ripe plantains, fried and seasoned with salt


Bacalao: Soak cod in water 48 hours (change water every 6-8 hours), drain, cut into chunks, poach in milk over medium low until just cooked through, drain, reserve milk, pat cod dry with paper towels. When ready to serve, heat olive oil in skillet over medium high, add reserved cod; sear on one side until light golden brown.

Soup: Sauté cabbage and a little butter in skillet over medium until shiny, add water, cover, steam until just cooked; reserve. Boil sweet potato in pot with chicken stock (to cover potato), reduce heat; simmer until tender. Meanwhile, heat remaining butter in pan over medium, sauté onions, shallots, garlic and thyme 2-3 minutes, add turmeric, paprika, cumin, oregano and pepper, sauté 2-3 minutes, add to sweet potatoes, simmer 15 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently. Add cream, bring just to a simmer, remove and transfer to blender; add reserved cabbage, purée, transfer to pan. Add corn, peas, fava and cannellini beans, salt and pepper; simmer 5 minutes.

Lime Marinated Onions: Cover onion and chili in a bowl with lime juice, let stand 15 minutes, drain; add parsley, cilantro and salt.

Plating: Spoon soup into bowls, arrange cod, egg, mozzarella and avocado on top; garnish with plantains and onions.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes.
  • Soak time: 48 hours.
  • Cook time: 55 minutes.
  • Makes 6 servings.