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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.
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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. Laylita,

    I am so happy I stumbled across your website. My mother is from Guatemala and my father is from Ecuador. I love both places but I have to admit that Ecuador has the best food (in my opinion). I grew up eating some of my dad’s cooking which included Majado, Papas en Mani, Sopa de Pepino. He always talked about his favorite dish… Encebollado de Pescado! I’m making it tonight and if all goes well, I will be cooking it for him next month for his birthday. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Laylita,

    Thank you for your wonderful website! My husband is from Ecuador and I lived there for 3 years, and your recipes help me reproduce so many great dishes from there! My husband loves this encebollado recipe with albacore, but says it also needs platano verde to make it complete. The encurtida definitely makes the dish! Saludos!

  3. Laylita, thank you so much. I decided to surprise my husband and make him Encebollado on Sunday after a night out, it turned out so delicious every one that was over couldn’t believe I being the only one that is not Ecuadorian in the family could do an Ecuadorian dish so Good. Thank you sooo much i will keep trying your great recipes.

  4. This soup is so AMAZING as the other dishes are.
    I am from Loja – Ecuador and for nothing of the world I will change this my favorite weekend soup.
    Thank you so much and I will recomend to my Boss it this delicious soup.

  5. Your blog is AMAZING! I stumbled upon it searching for a recipe for encebollado and am so happy I did!

    I’ve traveled around South American and spent extended periods of time in Ecuador. Now I’m back in the states and am CRAVING encebollado. While I was there I had it for breakfast every Sunday and would look forward to having it all week! I didn’t think the recipe would be so easy to make, but now that I know it is, I will definitely be making it for myself and my family.

    Thank you so much and can’t wait to start following you!

  6. Love the stuff. Tuna (any kind even albacore) is a very good choice but you can also use what they call corvina or sea bass. I’ve even made it with swordfish and it’s good. In Ecuador corvina (or sometimes the shark variety they they pass for corvina in the market) is actually the most common fish they use. Albacore is next. Fish that don’t work well are white fish (or anything like it) and salmon (salmon was gross). What they serve with the dish varies from place to place but common condiments are the thin fried plantain banana chips known as chifle, toasted corn, and even popcorn. Some restaurants will even put ketchup and mustard on the table with the extra limes for those that want it. When I make this I put the fresh cilantro on with brined (not pickled) onions along with some key lime to taste.

  7. I’m from Long beach CA, My husband is Ecuadorian and one of the things he loves is his Encebollado and he showed me to love this dish as well so I,m doing some encebollado today with this cold weather that is similar to Ecuador that your recipe is helpfull due to I haven’t cooked it for a while so I forgot some of the ingredients so this was a refresher to me and cook this delicious dish.

    Thank you for the recipe and keep it up.

  8. This is the most delicios plate ever created for long time….My wife veronica knows the rite time to cook to perfection her Mother showed to her when we just got married 24 years ago..best of all is the reason why i lover so much….we can not take away this website also.that help her on remembering the good stuff thank you guys!!!!!!

  9. This is soooo delicious…. and a little tip you just omit the fish if your vegatarian and its juat as good lol!!!! I make it for my husband and myself often…

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