Traditional Fanesca Recipe: The Ultimate Lenten Dish

Friends, gather ’round for I have a recipe that’ll knock your socks off! It’s perfect for a spring day, and it’s the pride and joy of Ecuadorian cuisine. Yes, you heard me right! Today we will be making Fanesca, also known as the Ecuadorian Spring Soup.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – soup in spring? But trust me on this, the hearty combination of rice, beans, and vegetables will fill you up and leave you feeling oh-so-satisfied. And the best part? The unique combination of spices and ingredients is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.

Fanesca is traditionally made during Lent and Easter (Semana Santa) in Ecuador, but I say why limit ourselves to just one time of year when we can enjoy this delicious soup all season long? So let’s gather our ingredients, put on some good music, and get started on making this amazing dish!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Fanesca (Spring Soup)
Fanesca (Spring Soup)

Are you ready for a flavor explosion in your mouth? Look no further than Fanesca, the traditional Ecuadorian spring soup that will leave you begging for more! Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s also hearty and filling, making it the perfect meal for any occasion.

But what makes Fanesca so unique? First off, it’s traditionally made with lentils and utilizes many spring vegetables such as green beans, green peas, fava beans, and cabbage. This combination of veggies provides a burst of freshness that truly sings in your mouth. Additionally, the rice and beans add a necessary textural contrast to make the soup even more satisfying.

But we’re not done yet – the star of the show is definitely the dried salt cod fish. This ingredient adds a deepness to the soup that is unparalleled. The combination of garlic and cumin in the broth make this soup a comfort food like no other.

To top it all off, we sprinkle parmesan cheese on top along with peanuts for an extra crunchy texture. And let’s not forget about the hard-boiled eggs which add not only protein but also an element of surprise in every bite.

So why should you love this recipe? Because it’s a hearty and healthy bowl of comfort food that will warm your soul as much as it fills up your belly. Whether you’re celebrating Semana Santa or just need a new vegetable soup recipe, Fanesca is sure to be a hit at your dinner table. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Ingredient List

 Get ready to taste the flavors of Ecuador with this delicious Fanesca soup!
Get ready to taste the flavors of Ecuador with this delicious Fanesca soup!

Here comes the exciting part of this Fanesca recipe! To ensure maximum flavor, let us begin with the essential ingredients:

6 cups water
1 pound dried salt cod (bacalao)
2 cups baby lima beans
2 cups green beans
2 cups peas
2 cups fava beans
4 cups muenster cheese, grated
4 cups queso blanco or queso fresco cheese, cubed
1 large head cabbage, chopped
1 large can (29 oz) corn kernel, drained
2 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 cup butter
2% low-fat milk, as needed for consistency
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove**, minced.

Collect all ingredients beforehand to reduce preparation time and smooth your cooking experience.

The Recipe How-To

 Don't let the long list of ingredients intimidate you, this recipe is easier than it seems.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you, this recipe is easier than it seems.

Are you ready to learn how to make the famous Fanesca (Spring Soup)? Let’s begin by gathering all the necessary ingredients and utensils.


  • 1 lb salt cod fish
  • 2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans
  • 4 cups of milk (2% low-fat milk)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of long-grain rice
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • 1 cup of baby lima beans
  • 1 cup of fava beans
  • 1 cup of corn kernels
  • 1 cup of diced zucchini
  • 1 cup of shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Step 1: Prep Work

First, we need to prepare some ingredients before starting the cooking process. Begin by soaking the salt cod in a bowl filled with cold water for at least eight hours or overnight. This process will help reduce the saltiness of the fish. After soaking, drain and cut it into small pieces.

In a pot, heat up the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the onion and garlic then cook them until they are soft and fragrant.

Step 2: Add in Vegetables

After cooking down the onion and garlic mixture, add in the grated cheese along with all vegetables including zucchini, shredded cabbage, green beans, corn kernel, green peas, baby Lima beans, and fava beans. Cook for about ten minutes or until vegetables seem cooked through.

Step 3: Add in Water and Milk

Add in both water and milk into the same pot with vegetables along with the cooked garbanzo beans. Add bay leaves, ground cumin, dried oregano and cooked rice. After a stir of these ingredients, add in salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Step 4: Cook Salt Cod

Prepare a separate pot for the salt cod fish. Boil the fish until thoroughly cooked through for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool off for a few minutes then continue onto flaking the cod into small pieces.

Step 5: Add in Cod Fish & Serve

Combine both pots together by adding in the cod to the vegetable mixture. Cook at a simmering temperature for an additional 10-15 minutes. This will allow all of our flavors to blend together bringing forth even more deliciousness.

Serve hot by topping each bowl with some chopped peanuts or parmesan cheese, it makes all the difference!

This recipe serves around six people great for family gatherings or friend events!

Substitutions and Variations

 Springtime is the perfect season to enjoy this traditional and hearty soup.
Springtime is the perfect season to enjoy this traditional and hearty soup.

Well, folks, are you looking to mix things up a bit in the kitchen? Do you want to put your own twist on this classic Fanesca recipe? Fear not, my culinary comrades, for I have some substitutions and variations to spice things up.

For those who aren’t fond of salt cod, try using smoked salmon, halibut, or even shrimp as a substitute. If your taste buds crave more cheese, replace the Muenster with Swiss or sharp cheddar. For a vegan version, swap out the milk and cheeses for plant-based alternatives such as almond or oat milk and vegan cheese options.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not add some extra vegetables? Carrots, sweet potatoes, or even pumpkin are great additions that won’t overpower the dish’s natural flavors. For a gluten-free option, replace the long-grain rice with quinoa or brown rice.

For an extra kick of flavor, add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley along with ground turmeric for a pop of color. If you’re trying to cut back on calories, replace the butter with olive oil to keep it light.

Remember that cooking is an adventure and you should embrace opportunities to explore new tastes and ingredients. So get creative with this recipe and make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

 The combination of beans, grains, and vegetables makes for a nutritious and filling meal.
The combination of beans, grains, and vegetables makes for a nutritious and filling meal.

Now that you’ve made this scrumptious Fanesca Spring Soup, let’s talk about how to serve and pair it for the perfect experience. This soup has a rich and creamy texture with an eclectic mix of vegetables and spices that make it a hearty and filling meal on its own. But why stop there?

I recommend garnishing the top of each bowl with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese, roasted peanuts, or chopped cilantro for an added layer of flavor and texture. Pair your fanesca soup with some toasted bread or crunchy croutons to balance out the creaminess of the soup.

For beverages, you can’t go wrong with a nice white wine or even a frosty beer to complement the warmth of the soup. But if alcohol isn’t your thing, try a refreshing glass of lemonade or iced tea for a crisp and cool contrast.

Whether you’re serving this soup as a main course or an appetizer for guests, it’s sure to impress with its unique blend of Ecuadorian flavors and spring vegetables. So grab your bowl and get slurping!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Here's a fun fact: Fanesca is usually only eaten during the Easter season in Ecuador.
Here’s a fun fact: Fanesca is usually only eaten during the Easter season in Ecuador.

Ah, the joys of meal prepping! Want to save time and enjoy this delicious Fanesca soup on a busy weeknight? I’ve got you covered. This recipe is perfect for making ahead of time and reheating later.

For best results, allow the soup to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply transfer the soup back to a pot and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.

If you’re planning on freezing the soup, I recommend not adding the Parmesan cheese or the eggs until after reheating. Simply let the soup cool completely before freezing it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

One thing to keep in mind when reheating this soup is that because it contains eggs, it’s important not to overheat them or they may curdle. To avoid this, reheat gently and slowly over low heat, stirring frequently until heated through.

Now that you know how easy it is to make this soup ahead of time and store it for later, there’s no excuse not to try this delicious Ecuadorian classic any day of the week!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Want to make this soup vegetarian-friendly? Simply swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.
Want to make this soup vegetarian-friendly? Simply swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Now, folks, let me tell ya a few tips to make sure your Fanesca Spring Soup turns out perfectly. This hearty and filling soup might be a little tricky to master, but with attention to detail and a few tricks from me, Mark Twain, you’ll get that perfect Ecuadorian dish on your table in no time.

First and foremost, use the best quality ingredients you can find. Fresh and seasonal produce will greatly enhance the flavors of this dish. Also, make sure to soak the salt cod fish for at least 24 hours to remove excess saltiness.

Secondly, cook the vegetables and beans separately until just tender, then add them to the soup at different stages according to their textures. This will avoid overcooking any of them and ending up with a mushy soup.

When adding the rice, it’s important to rinse it thoroughly before cooking to remove any excess starch that could clump together. Additionally, place a clean kitchen towel between the pot lid and pan while cooking the rice. This will prevent condensation from dropping onto the rice and making it soggy.

For an extra creamy texture, blend some of the cooked vegetables with milk before adding them back into the soup. And don’t forget to season every single component of the soup independently before combining everything together.

Finally, let the soup rest for at least 30 minutes after cooking so that all those beautiful flavors meld together into one big hug of deliciousness. Top each bowl with shredded Muenster cheese, crumbled Queso Fresco or Queso Blanco, and chopped peanuts if desired.

Follow these tips from Mark Twain himself- who knows a thing or two about cooking -and your Fanesca Spring Soup is guaranteed to be sublime!


Now that you know all the details about preparing a delicious Fanesca soup, it’s possible that you still have some lingering questions. In this section, I’ll answer some of the most common inquiries I’ve received over time related to this dish!

What is fanesca soup?

The dish I am excited to share today is Ecuador’s famous fanesca soup, which is traditionally prepared during Lent. This hearty and creamy soup is made with a variety of 12 grains, representing the Twelve Apostles, and cod, symbolizing Jesus. The preparation process is a labor of love, requiring several days and numerous helpers to make a dish that truly embodies the cultural richness of Ecuador’s Lenten traditions.

What is fanesca made of?

In this recipe, I will share with you the steps to create a hearty traditional dish called fanesca. This Ecuadorian soup or stew is typically enjoyed during the Lent and Easter season. The key ingredients in this recipe include salted cod, squash, fava beans, chochos, corn, peas, beans, rice, onions, garlic, cumin, achiote, peanuts, milk, cream and cheese. Follow along as I guide you through the process of creating this delicious soup.

What is the meaning of Fanesca?

During Holy Week in Ecuador, households and communities prepare and consume a traditional soup called Fanesca.

What is in soup?

Soup is a culinary creation consisting of various ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, or other foods, cooked in water or broth. Compared to stews, soups have a higher ratio of liquid content.

Bottom Line

Now that you have learned the secrets to make this delightful soup, it is time for you to try it out yourself. Fanesca is not only an Ecuadorian traditional dish, but it is also a delicious and hearty meal that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

From the variety of spring vegetables to the mix of different cheeses and the protein-packed salt cod, fanesca has it all. This soup is perfect for cold spring days or for a special occasion like Semana Santa or Easter Sunday.

So why stick to basic soup recipes when you can try this mouth-watering fanesca? It is a plato típico that deserves your attention and pleasure.

Give fanesca a chance and transport your taste buds to the flavors and aromas of South America.

Fanesca (Spring Soup)

Fanesca (Spring Soup) Recipe

Plan ahead for your Easter feast! I read an article in The New Yorker magazine regarding a letter from Ecuador by Calvin Trillin about a Spanish soup that he adores called Fanesca, a thick and hearty soup heavy on the beans, which is only available during holy week. Well, the article didn't come with a recipe but I found several on-line, all more or less the same. Don't let the number of ingredients put you off, it will come together relatively quickly. Seeing as how I'm a vegetarian, I omitted the salt cod but I am leaving it here in case you are not but making it an optional addition. If you do add it then you'll have to start this recipe the day before. Note that the rice, beans and vegetables should all be cooked before adding and that will take you less than an hour if they are all cooked simultaneously (see instructions). If you cook everything ahead of time this recipe comes together in 15 minutes. Anyway, I made this on Saturday, day before Easter and we both loved it:D
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Ecuadorian
Calories 447.6 kcal


  • 1 lb salt cod fish (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup long-grain rice, cooked in
  • 1 cup milk, and
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup corn kernel, cooked
  • 2 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded and cooked
  • 2 cups winter squash, cooked and mashed (1 small)
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped and cooked (2 small)
  • 1 cup baby lima beans or 1 cup fava beans, cooked
  • 1 cup green peas, cooked
  • 1 cup green beans, cooked
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, ground
  • 5 cups 2% low-fat milk
  • 1 1 cup queso fresco or 1 cup queso blanco, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste if fish is included)
  • 3 eggs, hardboiled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated


  • If using, soak cod fish in cold water to cover for 12 hours or more, changing water from time to time.
  • Drain and put in saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until fish is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain fish, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees fahrenheit. Cut winter squash in half and place cut side down on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions replacing half the water with milk (boil on very low heat about 20 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, cook beans and vegetables according to package directions. I used frozen corn, peas, lima beans and green beans combined in same casserole dish and microwaved for 8-9 minutes. The zucchini and cabbage I steamed together for 10 minutes. Combine.
  • Meanwhile, cook eggs until hard boiled (about 4 minutes) and set aside. Let cool, remove shell and slice.
  • When rice is done, add to bean mixture.
  • When winter squash is done, set aside and let cool slightly before scraping out flesh with a fork and mashing a bit. Add to beans and rice mixture. If you are making this ahead of time, place in refrigerator until ready.
  • Heat butter in large saucepan and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes, Add oregano, cumin, bay leaf and several grinds of black pepper and saute for a minute or two longer. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil and add the next 11 ingredients (rice through milk) and fish, if using.
  • Stir to mix and simmer very gently for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  • Add chopped cheese and salt to taste. The soup should be about as thick as a minestrone. If it seems too thick, thin it with a little more milk and simmer for a few minutes longer.
  • Garnish soup with sliced hardboiled eggs and serve with parmesan cheese.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 452gCalories: 447.6kcalCarbohydrates: 49.8gProtein: 22.8gFat: 18.6gSaturated Fat: 8.7gCholesterol: 118.7mgSodium: 614.5mgFiber: 5.9gSugar: 12.8g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Ecuadorean, South American, Spring, Stove Top, Vegetable, Winter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.