Ajiaco (Colombian Chicken Soup)
This hearty soup is a specialty of the mountainous region around Bogotá, and one of Colombia's most famous dishes. Aji is traditionally made with chiles that haven’t been seeded, but you’ll probably find it plenty spicy without the seeds. Leftover aji is delicious on roasted or grilled meats.
To learn more, read the article:
From Colombia, Chicken Soup with a Twist
For the soup:
3 lb. cut-up chicken, skin removed, rinsed well
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 leek (white and light green parts only), cut into 1-inch rings, and rinsed thoroughly
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ears fresh corn, cut crosswise into quarters
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 lb. Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 lb. small red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 Tbs. kosher salt; more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
For the aji:
4 scallions (white and light green parts only)
1 medium tomato, peeled and seeded
1 small white onion, peeled
2 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles or 2 fresh hot red chiles, stems and seeds removed (wear gloves, and don’t touch your eyes)
3 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves
3 Tbs. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
For the garnishes:
2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1/2 cup nonpareil or other small capers, rinsed and drained (if using large capers, chop them coarsely)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Make the soup:
Put the chicken in a large (at least 8-quart) stockpot and add 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, frequently skimming off the foam that floats to the surface.
Add all the vegetables, the garlic, the cilantro, and the bouillon cubes to the pot, along with the salt and pepper. Stir a few times to distribute the vegetables and submerge as many of the solids as possible. When the broth returns to a gentle boil, partially cover the pot and simmer, stirring once or twice, for 1-1/2 hours. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
Using tongs or a slotted spoon, pick out the chicken pieces and put them on a large plate. Stir the soup with a large spoon, breaking up some of the potatoes to thicken the soup slightly. Keep hot if serving soon or let cool and refrigerate.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones and shred it by hand. Discard the bones and tendons, and put the shredded chicken in a serving bowl.
Make the aji:
In a food processor, pulse all the aji ingredients until they’re finely minced. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve the ajiaco:
Put the avocados, sour cream or creme fraiche, capers and cilantro leaves in small bowls and set them on the table along with the bowls of shredded chicken and the aji. Reheat the soup if necessay and ladle it into large soup bowls, putting a quater ear of corn in each bowl. Let your guests add the garnishes and the aji as they like.
Make Ahead Tips
The soup and the aji can be made a day ahead. If the soup is too thick after it’s reheated, thin it with a little water.
nutrition information (per serving):
From Fine Cooking 60
, pp. 34
October 1, 2003