Ajiaco is a traditional, hearty Colombian chicken and potato soup recipe that contains chicken, potatoes, corn and a unique herb that gives the soup its characteristic flavor.
Served with a fresh avocado, rice, capers and cream, our Ajiaco Colombiano is a one pot meal that will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
Having Ajiaco in Bogota
Walking down the winding street of la Candelaria, Bogota, one can't help but feel drawn to the myriad of graffiti decorating the walls. The colourful homes, some of which have beens standing shoulder-to-shoulder since colonial times, seemingly need no additional decoration. Their vibrant exteriors draw the eye with their detailing, the woodwork dark and aged against the painted plaster and stone.
Yet as our feet pound the cobblestone, exploring one unexpected turn after the other, there is one overwhelming sense that leads the way - the sense of smell.
For everywhere you go in the capital of Colombia Bogotá, there is the smell of food in the air. A lot of it is emitted by the arepa and empanada peddlers, selling their wares from rickety street carts. Some of it is emitted by the corn sellers, broiling their husks on makeshift grills. But if you keep going past the Colombian food peddlers and enter any restaurant in Bogotá's oldest quarter, you are bound to encounter the chief emitter of its food smells: the chamba pot of Colombian ajiaco soup.
Ajiaco Colombiano is a one pot soup that is traditional, and that Bogotanos just can't get enough of - and if you try our easy ajiaco chicken soup recipe, you'll understand why!
For more Colombian recipes:
What is Colombian Ajiaco soup?
Ajiaco is traditional Colombian soup that is hearty and full of flavor. This simple stew is made primarily of chicken, three potato varieties and corn. It is served with heaps of white rice, raw avocado, salty capers and a bit of liquid cream. Some people also top it with green onion.
Ajiaco potato and chicken soup is also popular in Peru and Cuba, where it takes a slightly different form, but it's most popular in Bogota.
For some of you, Ajiaco Colombiano may sound strange. But this chicken and potato soup made with corn was one of the first dishes my husband cooked for me, and one that I am now thrilled to share with you. It's one of the only ones I really enjoy eating chicken, and remains one of my fave Colombian dishes.
Colombian Ajiaco ingredients
- Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Fresh corn, preferably Colombian corn
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Papas criollas, or fingerling or baby potatoes
- white potatoes, peeled and sliced
- red potatoes, peeled and sliced
- Dried guascas (you can also use dried oregano)
- garlic cloves
- heavy cream
- Fresh cilantro
(scroll below for the full recipe!)
Papas Criollas, where to find them and what to use instead
This Ajiaco recipe is made with three types of potatoes (potatoes are endemic to the Andes, where Colombian Ajiaco originates), the chief potatoes that give Ajiaco its unique Colombian flare are papas criollas, little yellow potatoes that are perfectly creamy on the inside.
Papas Criollas, also known as Andean potatoes or Colombian potatoes, are often used in soups, or fried until the outside is crispy and the center is mushy and tender.
You can find Papas Criollas in the frozen aisle of most Latin stores and in some international stores. If you prefer to shop online, here are some sources for papa criolla:
In Canada, you can buy Papas Criollas on Unimarket.
In Canada, you can buy Papas Criollas on Unimarket.
Guascas, where to find them and what to use instead
But the main thing that gives Ajiaco Colombiano its flavor are the herb called guascas. Guascas (galinsoga parviflora) is a Colombian herb from the daisy family - considered a weed in North America - that is used as a seasoning and a natural remedy across South America. It dominates Colombian cuisine, partially a result of how freely it grows across the plains and the Andes.
Guascas taste like a cross between lime, artichokes and peanuts. If you cannot find guascas or don't want to buy it online, you can substitute dried oregano for it. Keep in mind ajiaco will not taste the same without guascas, but sometimes beggers can't be choosers.
You can find dried guascas in any Latin store, in some Walmarts, or even in some international stores. If you prefer to shop online, here are some sources for guascas:
In Canada, you can order Guascas on Unimarket.
What is Ajiaco soup in English?
Ajiaco refers to a chicken and potato stew that is popular in Colombia and Cuba.
The name derives from the Spanish words Aji and Aco. Aji means "hot pepper" in Taino, the language of the indigenous people of the Carribean and Florida, and the stew is said to have been a popular meal with Taino tribes - which is how it made its way to Cuba.
Why you need to try this Ajiaco recipe
This Ajiaco Colombiano is my favourite way to make ajiaco soup. It's different that some popular colombian chicken soup recipes because frankly, it's easier - we don't cook ingredients separately, and everything is made in one pot.
This is why you should make Colombian ajiaco recipe:
- Easy - no separate cooking, everything is made in one pot
- One pot meal that's complete with protein, carbs and veggies
How to make our Ajiaco recipe
Making this Colombian Ajiaco soup recipe couldn't be easier, and you end up with a filling, one pot meal where the chicken is cooked in the same time as a result! What could be better?
In a large pot, place chicken and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 mins, until chicken is tender. Remove the chicken and set aside. Once cooled, shred chicken into small strips.
To pot with chicken stock, add papa criolla, red potatoes, white potatoes and the corn, the guascas, scallions, garlic cloves and cilantro. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes. Some of the potatoes in the pot should have dissolved and thickened the soup; if this hasn't happened yet, continue cooking. Season with salt and pepper.
Add shredded chicken back to soup.
Ajiaco soup is served hot, with rice, capers, avocados, cilantro and heavy cream on the side.
When is Ajiaco soup served?
Colombian Ajiaco is often served for lunch in Bogota, as it's a complete one pot meal. But you can also make this recipe for a perfectly filling dinner! There's nothing like coming home to a simmering pot of ajiaco.
Where to get the ingredients for Ajiaco
You can find the unique ingredients used in Colombian cuisine to make this colombian Ajiaco recipe, like guascas and papa criolla, in most Latin markets and in some international stores.
In the U.S., they are even available in Walmart.
If you prefer to shop online, here are some sources for these Latin ingredients:
In Canada, you can buy Papas Criollas and guascas on Unimarket.
Tried and loved this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! Your reviews mean a lot to me, so if you've got any questions, please let me know in a comment.
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Colombian Ajiaco Recipe
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 whole corn on the cob ears preferably Andean corn
- 2 cups papas criollas or fingerling or baby potatoes
- 2 white potatoes peeled and sliced
- 2 red potatoes peeled and sliced
- ¼ cup dried guascas
- 2 scallions sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro finely diced, plus more for serving
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cooked rice for serving
- 1 cup heavy cream for serving (optional)
- ½ cup capers for serving
- 2 avocados for serving
- In a large pot, place chicken and 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 30 mins. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Once cooled, shred the chicken into small strips.
- To the pot with chicken broth, add corn, three different types of potatoes and the guascas, scallions, garlic cloves and cilantro. Cook for 30 minutes. Some of the potatoes should have dissolved and thickened the soup; if this hasn't happened yet, continue cooking. Season with salt and pepper.
- Return shredded chicken to the pot.
- Serve the Ajiaco hot, with rice, capers, avocados, cilantro and heavy cream on the side.
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