Fanesca is a special Ecuadorian soup served only during the week leading up to Easter. It is an elaborate, rich soup made with 12 different beans and grains (representing the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ). Salt cod (cooked in milk) provides the protein, since this soup is consumed during Lent, when many Latin American Catholics abstain from eating meat. It's usually served with fried plantains, hard boiled eggs and flour empanadas (turnovers), either floating in the soup or on the side.
- 2 lbs dried salt cod (bacalao seco)
- 6 cups diced sambo or fresh squash (zucchini), about 2 ½ lbs
- 6 cups diced zapallo (squash, about a small sized butternut squash)
- 2 cups shredded white cabbage
- 4 cups cooked and peeled fava beans
- 4 cups cooked corn kernels
- 3 cups cooked green peas
- 2 cups cooked lima beans
- 2 cups cooked alubias (cannellini beans)
- 2 cups chochos (lupini beans), peeled
- 2 cups cooked rice (cooked in abundant water and very tender)
- 8 tbs butter
- 1 tsp annatto seed (achiote) oil
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 10 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 2 cups roasted peanuts
- 12 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 12 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup fresh cheese (queso fresco, can be substituted with feta cheese)
- ½ bunch of cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
Serve with: hardboiled egg slices, fried ripe plantains, hot peppers slices.
- Soak the salt cod in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours, each time the water should be less and less salty, at the end cut the cod into medium sized pieces (if it doesn’t come already cut).
- Cook the diced butternut squash and zucchini separately, with barely enough water to cover them, cook until they are very tender, drain the water and place them in a blender or food processor to make a puree.
- Boil the shredded cabbage with a small amount of water for about 3 minutes, drain and add to the squash puree.
- In a large stock pot or soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat to make a base for the soup (refrito), add the onions, garlic, achiote, cumin, oregano and pepper and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked rice to the refrito and mash it into the refrito with a potato masher to make a thick sauce or puree.
- Add the squash and cabbage puree and mix well.
- Add 4 cups of milk and the fava beans, corn, green peas, lima beans and cannellini beans, stir in well and let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile bring 6 cups of milk to boil, add the soaked and desalted cod, and boil for about 10 minutes.
- Add the milk and cod to the soup or if you don’t want the soup to have the strong salted cod flavor then strain the milk and add only the milk to the soup, reserve the fish, fry it in oil until browned on each side and serve on the side or place a piece of the fried cod in each individual soup bowl.
- At this point you want to taste the soup and add salt if needed; how much you need will depend on whether you add the salt cod to the soup or not (as well as how well you soaked and rinsed the cod).
- Blend the roasted peanuts with 2 cups of milk, add this to the soup, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- About 5 to 10 minutes before serving, add the lupini beans (chochos), the heavy cream and the cheeses, and stir to help the cheeses dissolve.
- Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and stir well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with the pieces of fried salt cod (unless they were already added to the soup), hardboiled egg slices, lime marinated white onions, fried ripe plantains, slices of queso fresco, fried cheese empanadas, and Ecuadorian hot sauce or slices of hot peppers. These can be added on top of the soup or on the side.
(Credit: Laylita's Recipes)