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Encebollado de pescado – Ecuadorian fish soup with lime pickled onions

Encebollado de atun or fish soup with tomato onion salsa

Encebollado de pescado is one of my favorite soups, the name is hard to translate, and literally it could be translated as oniony fish soup. Encebollado is made with fresh tuna, yuca or cassava root, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, spices and is served with curtido or pickled onions and tomatoes on top or mixed in with the soup. The pickled or lime marinated red onions are what give it the name “encebollado”. It is a typical soup from the coastal region in Ecuador.

This Ecuadorian tuna fish soup is very versatile and can be served for lunch, dinner and even breakfast or brunch. In fact it is known as the best hangover cure (like so many other Ecuadorian dishes); and restaurants that specialize in encebollado begin serving it in the early morning.

En español

{Encebollado de pescado} Ecuadorian tuna fish soup

Encebollado de pescado is an Ecuadorian fish soup made with fresh tuna, yuca or cassava, tomato, onions, cilantro, cumin, hot pepper and topped with pickled red onions.
4.86 from 235 votes
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Course: Brunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin
Keyword: Ecuadorian soup, Ecuadorian tuna fish soup, Encebollado soup, Fish soup, Tuna soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Author: Layla Pujol


  • 2 lbs fresh tuna albacore or similar
  • 1 lb yuca or cassava fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbs sunflower oil
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • ½ red onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 cilantro sprigs
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat the oil on medium heat to make a refrito with diced onion, tomato, cumin, chili powder and salt.
  • Add the water and cilantro springs, bring to a boil.
  • Add the tuna and cook for until the tuna is fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the tuna and keep the broth to cook the yuca.
  • Separate or break the tuna into small to medium size pieces.
  • Bring the tuna broth to a boil and add the yucas, cook until tender but firm, about 30-40 minutes for the frozen yuca.
  • Take the yuca from the broth, remove the strings and cut into bite size chunks.
  • Add the yuca chunks and tuna pieces to the broth, taste and add salt if needed.
  • Re-warm the soup if necessary and serve topped with a good amount of pickled onion and tomato salsa, if desired can also be served with chifles or plantain chips, tostado corn nuts, avocado slices and extra lime slices.


Variations for encebollado can be made using different types of fish or seafood. 
You can also additional herbs to the broth, but cilantro is the main one. 

Tomato and onion curtido salsa

Yuca or cassava root is widely used in South America. It is difficult to find good quality fresh yuca in the most parts of the US. I was able to get some decent yucas at the Fiesta store when we lived in Austin. The problem here is that when you buy the roots you don’t really know if the yuca inside is going to be good. While shopping at Fiesta one day I learned that the best way was to break the ends of the yuca roots off and check the yuca before buying it (the yuca should be completely white, any signs of brown lines or spots or dryness in the inside indicate that it isn’t good). However, while you could get away with this at Fiesta where they had huge amounts of yuca and everyone did this. I don’t think this could be done at places like Whole Foods that have a small section of 10 yuca roots.

Encebollado soup recipe

The solution is that now you can also buy it frozen from specialty Latin grocers or even online, which guarantees a minimum level of quality. However, anyone who tastes real fresh yuca in South America will tell you there is a significant difference.

If you are lucky enough to get fresh yuca it is important to peel it very well. There is a thin layer, almost pinkish, between the brown exterior and the white interior, that is toxic (no need to worry I have never heard of anyone getting sick from yuca) and should be removed.

Yuca is usually prepared by boiling it, just like potatoes. It is cooked once it is soft but still slightly firm inside. The middle part of the yuca roots have string like membranes that should be removed either before cooking or after (sometimes it is easier to remove them after they are cooked). In Ecuador there are different cooking times for yuca roots that are completely ripe and yucas that are younger.

I’m guessing that most of the roots found in the US are probably completely if not overly ripe. In Ecuador, we use yucas in a variety of soups, served plain with salt as a side dish or with sauces on top. They can also be fried, grated, and even made into flour and starch for baking. I’ve also had them in dessert recipes, but that isn’t as common as having them in savory dishes.

Encebollado fish soup

I prepared the encebollado with frozen yuca this time, but have a picture of the fresh yuca from a previous time I made this soup. Also, like most South American and Ecuadorian dishes the recipe varies from one city to another and even from one household to another. I had the soup before with additional vegetables such as potatoes and corn, but the essential ingredients are the tuna, yuca and the pickled onions on the top.

Preparation photos for encebollado fish soup:

Encebollado de pescado or fish soup Tuna for fish soup
Fresh yuca Cooked yuca for encebollado soup
Encebollado de pescado Encebollado de atun or tuna soup

Encebollado de pescado Ecuadorian fish soup

Ecuadorian fish encebollado soup recipe

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  1. Like everyone else here, I loved this recipe. It’s been almost 25 years since I lived in Ecuador. It was only a year but one of the best of my life. Tasting this tonight was a trip down memory lane. I remember going for encebollado with my host brother and him telling me it was the ultimate hangover cure. Mot often you can say you have fond memories of a hangover. Thank you very much! I’ll be coming back to your website regularly for more of these gems.

  2. ¡Hola! I have a language exchange partner in Guayaquil. He was telling me about encebollado and what a delicious breakfast it is. Sounds great maybe I can find yuca at the Latin store here amd try it. Thanks.

  3. Hi Layla! I lived in Ecuador for over 2 years in my early adulthood and fell in love with the country (and especially the delicious food)! Encebollado has always been my favorite dish and I’ve always wanted to make it. Thank you for posting this recipe! I wanted to know what you think about substituting the yuca for maybe potato? Do you think it would alter the dish too much? Potato is just a lot cheaper where I live here in the states and yuca can get pretty pricey sometimes. Thanks so much for all you do, you’re such a blessing to this world! Que pase muy bien!

    1. Hi Eli – Yes, you can use potato, it will be a good soup, might not be exactly the same, but still good. I’ve had better luck buying yuca frozen, both in terms of price and quality, than fresh. Latin grocery stores and also Asian supermarkets usually have frozen yuca.

  4. I am a huge fan, and have been visiting your generous website for roughly ten years. As adult of Ecuadorian descent I felt compelled to seek out the delicious cuisine I grew up with. One day I accidentally stumble across your website and it was truly a blessing. Your wonderful recipes have never failed to deliver. I’ve delighted my aging father on many occasions thanks to you Laylita
    Anthony Delgado
    PS Love the bio and images, for some reason I thought you’d be different, perhaps older due to the precise mastering and details of certain recipes. I’d love to buy the book when it comes out and wish you great success

  5. Surely this is the best –encebollado- I ever had. Thanks for helping us to keep our gastronomical culture :)

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe! My boyfriend is from Ecuador and I learned this was his favorite dish when I traveled there with him this past spring. Today is his birthday and I surprised him by making this for him today! He loved it! This was my first try at making any Ecuadorian dish ever and it turned out so well! Your directions and pictured helped me to make his birthday extra special! Thank you again!!

  7. Hi there,
    Thank you for this recipe! I am pregnant and am supposed to avoid eating tuna steaks, but I can eat other white fish or canned tuna. Would you suggest either as a good substitute? I like this recipe so much that I would love to eat it once a week, so avoiding tuna steak is a must. Thanks!

  8. Vivo anos sin ir a Ecuador y ahora que descubri tu website no he parado de preparer comida Ecuatoriana y a mi esposo de Mexico le fasina. Hoy prepare el ensebollado y me quedo de pelicula gracias.

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