March 1, 2018
In Colombia, ajiaco is a potato soup made with chicken and guasca (Galinsoga parviflora). It is a popular Sunday meal, served together with various toppings that each guest put into their own bowl according to their own preferences.
Ingredients (6 big servings)
For the soup:
- 2 big chicken breasts, with bone and skin, approximately 1.5 lbs
- 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1 ½ lbs mixed potatoes (yellow, red, etc), peeled and cut into small chunks
- 3 ears of fresh corn, quartered
- 1 bunch of cilantro, tied with twine
- 1 bunch of spring onions, tied with twine
- 2 tablespoons of dried guascas
- 2 avocados, peeled and thinly sliced
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup of chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons of chopped drained capers
- Place the chicken in a ceramic dish. Top it with onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably more.
- In a heavy 4-quart lidded pot, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Place the chicken, and its marinating bits, in the oil. Brown the chicken on all sides. It will usually take 5-7 minutes in total.
- Pour the chicken stock over the browned chicken. Increase the heat to high and bring the stock to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium low. Cover and leave to simmer until the chicken is tender. This will usually take around half an hour.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter. Don’t throw out the cooking liquid from the pot, you will need it later in this recipe.
- When the chicken has cooled off a bit, remove its skin. Discard the skin.
- Tear the chicken into bit-size strips. Remove and discard the bones. Set the chicken strips aside.
- Place the potato chunks in the cooking liquid that you have waiting for you in the pot. Heat up over medium heat, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add corn, scallions, cilantro and guascas to the pot where the potato is cooking. Leave to simmer with the lid on until the potatoes are tender. It will usually take 20 minutes or so.
- Remove the cilantro and the scallions from the potato pot.
- Add the chicken strips to the potato pot. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, just to warm up the chicken.
- Put the toppings in bowls on the table, so each dinner guest can help themselves to toppings.
- Laddle ajiaco into soup bowls and serve while its still very hot.
What is guascas?
Guascas is the Colombian name for the plant Galinsonga parviflora. In the United States, it is known as gallant soldier and is a common weed in vegetable gardens. Guascas is what gives the Colombian ajiaco its deep grassy flavour.
Many Latin-American shops and markets sell guascas. Dried guascas is offered by several food brands, including El Rey and Kiska.
If you can’t find guascas where you live, don’t worry – you can order it online from Amazon, eBay. Amigo Foods, etc.
In Peru, the dish called ajiaco is made with potatoes, garlic, hierba buena, huacatay, aji mirasol and aji panca. It is usually accompanied by rice and stewed chicken or rabbit.
Cuban ajiaco is more like a stew than a soup. It is made with chicken, beef and/or pork, veggies and a variety of starchy roots and tubers known as viandas.