Ecuadorian Fanesca: The National Dish

Last updated on October 6th, 2023 at 02:34 pm

ecuadorian fanesca soup in containers

Welcome to our guide on Ecuador’s national dish, part of our new series here at Remitly celebrating the traditional foods of our global customers.

Origins of Fanesca

Ecuadorian Fanesca has its roots in the Andean region. This rich soup, a delightful blend of legumes and other ingredients, is deeply linked to the Holy Week and the Easter festivities in Ecuador. Many believe the tradition originated from the Spanish, with elements incorporated from the indigenous Andean culture.

Traditional Fanesca Recipe

Prep time: Don’t rush; it’s worth every minute!

  1. Start by sautéing garlic cloves, white onions, and red onion on medium heat.
  2. Soak bacalao (salt cod) and shred. Add to a large pot.
  3. Incorporate legumes: lentils, fava beans, lupini beans, lima beans, chickpeas, and corn kernels.
  4. Add seasonings: ground cumin, oregano, achiote, and annatto.
  5. For creaminess: Add heavy cream, queso fresco, and cream cheese. Blend some ingredients in a food processor to puree.
  6. Simmer until all ingredients meld together.
  7. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs, scallions, cilantro, and roasted peanuts.
  8. Serve with a side of fried plantains and empanadas.

Fanesca: What’s in a Name?

The name ‘fanesca’ might be rooted in the Latin word for ‘chochos’ (lupini beans) or ‘fanescas’, meaning ‘mixture’. Its deep significance ties to the twelve apostles, with each legume in the soup representing one apostle.

Popular Variations

While the traditional recipe is a classic, variations exist. In Quito, you might find it with added zucchini and butternut. Some even toss in green peas, shredded cabbage, and sambos. Along the coast, there’s a fondness for plantains and ground cumin.

The Classic Food for Lent

Ecuadorian Fanesca is particularly significant during Lent and is often consumed on Good Friday. Catholics and Christians in Ecuador view the dish as a reminder of Jesus’ last supper. The salt cod (bacalao) symbolizes Jesus himself.

Ecuador’s Cuisine by Region

Ecuador’s culinary landscape varies dramatically from the Andes to the coast.
– In the Andes, expect hearty legumes and rich soups like Fanesca.
– Along the coast, seafood reigns, including bacalao.
– In the Amazon, you’ll savor dishes with plantains and cumin.
– And wherever you go in the small South American nation, don’t forget the empanadas, which are popular everywhere.

The Bottom Line

Fanesca soup is not just an Ecuadorian dish; it’s a symbol of Ecuador’s rich heritage, a blend of Spanish and Andean cultures. Whether you’re relishing Ecuadorian Easter soup in Quito or a variation in Latin America, each spoonful is a testament to a tradition that spans generations.

About Remitly

At Remitly, we’re on a mission to simplify international money transfers. Since 2011, millions have used Remitly for fast, transparent, and affordable transfers. Visit our homepage to learn more or download our app for seamless money transfers. For assistance, explore our Help Center.