Ajiaco is a Colombian potato soup with distinct regional recipes.
Ajiaco santafereño is named after Santa Fé de Bogotá (the former name of Bogotá) capital of Colombia, where it is a cultural mainstay. It typically contains pieces of chicken, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes (tiny papas criollas that fall apart and thicken the soup, and give the soup its characteristic dark yellow colour; the waxy sabanera and/or the soft pastusa), and guasca (Galinsoga parviflora), a weedy, aromatic herb common in all America that lends the dish part of its distinctive flavour.
The soup is typically served with table cream, capers and avocado all mixed in just before eating in the proportions each individual prefers. Ajiaco is so heavy that it is usually considered a full meal. In Colombian cuisine, this is the most representative dish of Bogotá.
Soups called ajiaco can be found in other regions of Latin America, though some share almost nothing with the traditional bogotano recipe apart from the name. The name is likely derivative of the word ají, a Taíno word for hot pepper which has become generalised in South American Spanish (equivalent to chilli in Mexican Spanish). Though the modern Colombian ajiaco contains no ají, it is probably derived from spicier indigenous dishes.
As a Cuban recipe Ajiaco is a kind of stew. Cuban ethnologist Fernando Ortiz once defined the country as an ajiaco, alluding to the role that Spanish, African and Chinese cultures had in the definition of the national identity. For Cubans, ajiaco also means something that contains many ingredients.
Ajiaco Bogotano - Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup
- 3 chicken breast, skin removed
- 12 cups water
- 3 ears fresh corn, cut into halves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pepper, to taste
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 3 spring onions (scallions)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 3 tablespoon chopped coriander
- 2 cups papa criolla , Andean Potato (in Australia use Dutch Cream potatoes or similar)
- 3 medium white potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and sliced
- ⅓ cup guascas , there's really no substitute for this herb so omit if not available
- 1 cup heavy cream, for serving
- 1 cup capers, for serving
- In a large pot, place the chicken, corn, chicken stock cubes, coriander, spring onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is cooked and tender. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Continue cooking the corn for 30 more minutes. Discard spring onion and add red potatoes, white potatoes, and the guacas. Cook for 30 more minutes.
- Uncover and add the papa criolla and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the chicken meat into small pieces and return to the pot. Serve the Ajiaco hot with capers and heavy cream on the side.
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