Place of originEcuador
Main ingredientsFigleaf gourd, pumpkin, beans and grains, salt cod, milk

Fanesca is a soup traditionally prepared only on Easter Sunday and eaten is by households and communities in Ecuador. This dish is an Ecuadorian tradition that is prepared to give thanks to God for the food provided and blessings.


The indigenous people who occupied the territory of Ecuador celebrated the Muchuc Nina (New Fire Day) in the season that corresponds to March, where they grilled tender grains with Andean pumpkins taking advantage of the beginning of the young harvest. The Mushuc Nina was celebrated to commemorate the equinox solstice, when the sun takes a perpendicular position on the equinoctial line, erasing all shadows.[1] The indigenous people prepared for this festival by fasting and abstaining from sexual activity. The indigenous people's culinary preparation with tender grains and Andean pumpkins on New Fire Day became known as Uchucuta, a Quichua phrase that means tender grains cooked with chili and herbs, probably accompanied by wild guinea pig meat.[2] During the colony's evangelizing period,[3] the Spaniards mixed Catholic symbols and beliefs with indigenous components in order to accomplish cultural miscegenation. In the case of Holy Week, the Spaniards combined the commemoration of Jesus Christ's death, passion, and resurrection with the indigenous Muchuc Nina ritual, creating a preparation based on tender grains, which with the influence of the conquerors includes this stew some grains, dairy products, and salted and dried fish to avoid decomposition. The Spaniards add beans, lentils, and peas into the gastronomic portion, which strengthens trade between the mountains and the shore, allowing products such as bananas, peanuts, and fish to be found in mountain areas, aspects that are part of the Fanesca.

By the 19th century Quito was already celebrating Holy Week with the dish technically known as Fanesca, which would become an essential component of the event. The oldest reference to a Fanesca recipe could be from 1882, described by Juan Pablo Sanz in his book "The Cook's Manual"[4]

Currently, Fanesca is most popular in the northern highlands of Ecuador. Its popularity decreases to the south and the Coastal region. The Manabí province is where Fanesca is lees important.[5][6]

Ingredients and preparation

The components of fanesca and its method of preparation vary regionally, or even from one family to another. It is typically prepared and served only in the week before Easter (Holy Week). Making the soup is labor-intensive.[7]

It is a rich soup with primary ingredients figleaf gourd (sambo), pumpkin (zapallo), and twelve different kinds of beans and grains including chochos (lupines), fava beans (habas), lentils, peas, corn, and others, together with salt cod (bacalao) cooked in milk, due to the Catholic religious prohibition against red meat during Holy Week. It is also generally garnished with hard-boiled eggs, fried plantains, herbs, parsley, and sometimes empanadas de viento (Ecuadorian fried cheese empanadas).

Cultural themes and consumption

The twelve beans represent the twelve apostles of Jesus, and the bacalao is symbolic of Jesus himself.

Fanesca is usually consumed at midday, which is generally the principal meal of the day within Ecuadorian culture. The making and eating of fanesca are considered a social or family activity.

See also


  1. ^ Loiza, Yalilé (April 16, 2022). "La historia de la fanes la sopa ecuatoriana que recuerda a Jesus y sus apóstoles". Infobae.
  2. ^ Sempértegui, Brenda (July 4, 2022). "Conexion PUCE".
  3. ^ Lucero, Jose Antonio (May 10, 2005). "Representing "Real Indians": The Challenges of Indigenous Authenticity and Strategic Constructivism in Ecuador and Bolivia". Latin American Research Review. 41 (2): 31–56. doi:10.1353/lar.2006.0026. JSTOR 3874668. S2CID 144278780.
  4. ^ Sanz, Juan Pablo (2010-06-18). Memorias del VI Congreso de Cocinas Regionales Andinas. Tesoros de la Hospitalidad Andina (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Quito-Ecuador: Instituto Metropolitano de Patrimonio. p. 539. ISBN 978-9978-366-39-4.
  5. ^ Duarte-Casar, Rodrigo; Rojas-Le-Fort, Marlene (2024-04-18). "Fanesca: patrones y tendencias de veinte años de búsquedas en Internet". Revista de Gastronomía y Cocina (in Spanish). 3 (EE1): 2–2. doi:10.5281/zenodo.10993267. ISSN 2953-6480.
  6. ^ Rojas-Le-Fort, Marlene; Valdivieso-López, Isabel Patricia; Duarte-Casar, Rodrigo (2023-11-13). "Representations of Ecuadorian cuisine in the coast and the highlands regions through the free listing technique". Discover Food. 3 (1): 20. doi:10.1007/s44187-023-00061-9. ISSN 2731-4286.
  7. ^ Morales, Christina (21 March 2024). "A Lenten Soup So Good the Memory of It Lasts a Whole Year". The New York Times.