Ecuadorian Easter Stew

Fanescas, Flickr CC 2.0

Fanesca is a special Ecuadorian dish served only during the week leading up to Easter. It is an elaborate, rich stew made with 12 different beans and grains (to represent the 12 disciples), as well as squash and other vegetables. Salt cod (cooked in milk) provides the protein since this soup is consumed during Lent when many Latin American Catholics abstain from eating meat. Families have their own unique recipes for fanesa, which is labor intensive to prepare and involves lots of peeling and shelling of beans, soaking of salt cod, and cooking many ingredients separately before they can be added to the soup.

Fanesca is usually served with fried plantains, hard boiled eggs and empanadas (floating in the soup or on the side).

Noted author Calvin Trillin wrote a hilarious piece for the New Yorker magazine about his obsession with fanesca and a memorable quest for the soup (while struggling to master Spanish) on a trip to Ecuador.

Recipe for Fanesca - Ecuadorian Easter Soup
More Recipes from Ecuador
Letters from Ecuador: Speaking of Soup, by Calvin Trillin
Feeding a Yen - Calvin Trillin