Colombian Chicken Soup (Ajiaco)

When it’s cold out, few things are as comforting as a steamy bowl of hearty, brothy soup. Your house is filled with tantalizing aromas while it cooks, your belly is warmed while you eat, and you generally have delicious leftovers for a few days.

When we were in Colombia, we had the pleasure of sampling ajiaco. It is chicken soup filled with multiple types of potatoes and corn. While the soup is delicious on its own, the flavor is enhanced by the variety of toppings that accompany it: chopped fresh cilantro, avocado slices, capers, thinned sour cream, and aji, a salsa-type element. Like any much-loved and traditional comfort food, ajiaco is a dish for which there are dozens of recipes. Those that are “authentic” call for guascas (I used the substitute from Serious Eats) and for criollas, Colombian potatoes, neither of which I had on hand.

Authentic or not, the end result was delicious and satisfying. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ajiaco

Colombian Chicken Soup (Ajiaco)
Serves 8-10

  • 3# bone-in chicken, skin removed (I used chicken breasts, but you could use a combination of thighs, legs, etc.)
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 T. chopped parsley
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 T. cumin
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 5-6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
  • 2-3 ears corn, cut into 2-3″ rounds
  • salt and pepper

Aji (adapted from Simply Recipes)

  • 3 T. lime juice (~1.5 limes)
  • 4 scallions (use white and light AND dark green)
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded
  • 1 roma tomato
  • pinch of salt (or more to taste)
  • about 1/2 c. cilantro

Other Toppings

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Nonpareil capers, drained and rinsed
  • Sour cream thinned with whole milk
  • Avocado slices
  1. Add chicken pieces, chicken stock, water, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, russet potato, onion, and cumin to a large pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cook for 45 minutes.
  2. While the soup is cooking, put your ingredients for the aji into a food processor or a blender. Process until well combined. Taste and add salt as desired. Set aside.
  3. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove bay leaves and discard. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to blend the soup into a smooth consistency.
  4. Return to a simmer and add the red potatoes and the Yukon Golds. Cook until these are softened, about 20-25 minutes. Add the corn to the pot for the last 5 minutes to heat through.
  5. Shred the chicken and return it to the pot. Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
  6. Serve with the toppings and enjoy!
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