A Colombian Recipe from the Andes Region
This is a Colombian potato soup typical of the capital of the country. Its name is Ajiaco santafereño, and it is derived from the name of the capital of Colombia, Santa Fe de Bogota.
This dish has several kinds of potato. In Colombia we make it with potatoes that we cultivate in the region. We use papa Sabanera from the planes of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, two states in Colombia. Papa Paramuna from the high plateau, papa Pastusa from Pasto, and papa Criolla a small and yellow potato that disolves in the soup giving it its consistency.
The main ingredient of this soup besides the potatoes, is an herb that grows in the Andes region called guasca. Today many Latin grocery stores carry this herb.
The name ajiaco comes from the indigenous names of the chief indian Aco had his beautiful
wife Aj, and the union of both names Aj y Aco.It is also said that this dish was a Muisca soup prepared with potatoes, corn and guascas with some kind of white meat similar to chichen, according to Jose Joaquin Casas.
Ajiaco Bogotano Recipe
South American potatoes and herbs (e.g., guascas) are available at markets such as Compare and C-Town that carry Hispanic foods.
- 4 chicken breasts halves with the skin (about 3 pounds)
- 5 scallions, white part only, chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 pound criolla potatoes (Colombian yellow potatoes) or small white boiling potatoes, peeled, quartered
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and trimmed
- 2 1/2 pounds sabanera potatoes, or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons dried guascas
- 4 ears of corn, each cut into 3 sections
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of capers with juice
- 3 ripe avocados
- Toss together chicken, half of scallions, salt and pepper; refrigerate about 2 hours. When ready to cook, put the chicken in a large dutch oven or Chambaware pot (a clay pot traditionally used for Colombian cooking) and cover with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover; simmer until chicken is tender, about 35 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a platter and let cool. Remove skin from chicken and shred the chicken into thin strips.
- Add the bouillon cubes and papas criollas to the water and cook until they start to disintegrate, giving the soup a thick but fairly smooth consistency, about 30 minutes.
- Add the remaining scallions, the garlic, chopped onions, cilantro, sabanera and russet potatoes, guascas and corn. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove cilantro and scallions, add shredded chicken and heat through. Ladle into bowls and top with a spoonful of cream, a few capers and a few thin slices of avocado. Makes 8 to 10 servings.