Arvejas con guineo: Ecuadorian split pea and green banana soup
This split pea and green banana soup , known as arvejas con guineo in Spanish, is a traditional soup from southern Ecuador, and is made with green bananas, peas, onion, garlic, cumin, achiote, cheese and cilantro.
This delicious and comforting soup also known lovingly as arvejitas con guineo, and is one of the typical dishes from the province of Loja. It’s a variation of another traditional soup called repe lojano – made with just green bananas. This split pea and green banana soup is served with must have sides of avocado and hot sauce. If you never had this soup before (or green bananas in a soup) it might sound odd, but trust me, this is one of the best soups you will ever taste.
It is extremely easy to make, probably the most difficult part is finding bananas that are very green. It is especially tricky in the US where sometimes you can find green bananas, but the bananas are actually almost ripe inside. A banana that is truly green should a more difficult to peel than a semi-ripe green banana and should be very starchy and hard. Also, green bananas can stain clothes very easily so watch out for that when peeling/dicing them.
You can replace the green bananas with green plantains, which are easier to find, and the flavor will still be good. Purists will say that technically it won’t be exactly the same as the traditional version. However, even for a true “lojano” (which I consider myself to be) you will be able to satisfy your craving and the non-lojanos around you will simply find it to be a delicious and unique soup.
In Loja, and Ecuador, we have a cheese called quesillo that is used for this soup. Quesillo is a very fresh cheese, barely a few days old, but it melts perfectly in soups. I recommend using a mozzarella or cheese that melts well and that doesn’t have a strong flavor. Another cheese which is added to soups in Ecuador is called queso de sopa. Queso de sopa is a very crumbly soft and salty cheese, it’s usually made by grinding queso fresco with salt. I use a mix of mozzarella (not fresh) with queso fresco or feta cheese for this soup.
Arvejas con guineo: split pea and green banana soup
- 1 lb dried split peas about 2 cups
- 6 green bananas peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 6 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 medium sized finely chopped white onion about 2 cups
- ½ tablespoon of ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground achiote optional
- 6 cups water can also use the broth or cooking liquid from the peas
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
- 1 cup crumbled or grated quesillo cheese can use mozzarella
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- Aji hot sauce
- Cook the peas according to package instructions in water and salt until tender, if desired reserve the broth the peas cooked in to add to the soup (instead of water).
- Heat the oil over medium heat to make a refrito, add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, cumin, achiote, and salt, cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft
- Add the water or broth from the peas, bring to a boil and add the diced green bananas, simmer until the green bananas are soft, about 20-25 minutes.
- Add the cooked split peas, stir well and cook for 5 minutes
- Add the cheese and milk, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the chopped cilantro, taste and adjust salt to taste. Serve with avocados slices and hot sauce.
My mother makes this soup for me every time I visit her. Growing up, this was an absolute favorite of mine. I would add lime juice and have a avocado (or sometimes even a banana) on the side. My mother is Lojana.