Ajiaco Colombiano (Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup)

by Erica Dinho on March 19, 2009

This post is also available in Spanish

Ajiaco

Each region of Colombia has it own specialties and characteristic dishes. For example, in the capital of the country Bogotá; Ajiaco is a very popular dish. There are different versions of Ajiaco Bogotano , but it’s usually made with chicken and three kinds of potatoes, corn and an herb called guascas. This herb gives the soup a wonderful flavor. It is very important to use guascas and papa criolla as they are the key ingredients in this dish. For me, Ajiaco is a feel-good comfort food.

 

Ajiaco bogotano

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Ingredients

(6-8 SERVINGS)

  • 3 Chicken breast, skin removed
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 ears fresh corn, cuted into 2 pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups papa criolla (Andean Potato)
  • 3 medium white potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 medium red potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup guascas
  • 1 cup heavy cream for serving
  • 1 cup capers for serving

Ajiaco

Directions

  1. In a large pot, place the chicken, corn, chicken bouillon, cilantro, scallions, 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.
  2. Continue cooking the corn for 30 more minutes. Discard green onion and add red potatoes, white potatoes, and the guacas. Cook for 30 more minutes.
  3. Uncover and add the frozen papa criolla and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the chicken meat into small pieces and return to the pot. Serve the Ajiaco hot with capers and heavy cream on the side.
  5. Ajiaco santafereño

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous March 19, 2009 at 11:02 PM

I love ajiaco! Great Recipe.

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2 Forager March 20, 2009 at 10:06 AM

Oh this looks delicious – great comfort food as you say. I’ll have to try this recipe soon :)

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3 TonyM March 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM

I have never eaten Columbian food but that soup looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I must look out a good Columbian restaurant here in London.

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4 andrea March 2, 2012 at 10:50 AM

La Bodeguita Elephant and Castle London Colombian restaurant absolutely delicious

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5 Mario April 18, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Andrea, do you know colombians restaurants in Manchester?

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6 Erica March 20, 2009 at 2:11 PM

Thank you every one for all your great comments.I love Ajiaco too.

TonyM, I hope you can find a nice Colombian Restaurant in London, it is fun to try different recipes and ingredients.

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7 5 Star Foodie March 20, 2009 at 2:33 PM

How wonderful to learn more about Columbian food from your blog! This soup looks soooo good!

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8 Maggie March 24, 2009 at 7:23 AM

This sounds delicious! I have to be on the lookout to see if I can find guascas.

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9 Erica March 24, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Maggie you can find guascas online.

http://www.amigofoods.com/kigu10gr.html

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10 Scott June 28, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Thanks for this recipe! I have craved a good ajiaco recipe since my first trip to Bogota. The links are incredibly helpful also! Please keep adding recipes. I love Colombian food!

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11 Erica June 28, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Scott,
Thank you for your comment.

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12 Gina November 5, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Is there anything I can subtitute for guascas…im in canada and cant
get that here :(

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13 Erica November 5, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Hi Gina,
I don’t think so! Sorry!

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14 Jamie November 5, 2009 at 11:52 AM

I am preparing this dish for my son’s girlfriend, who is Colombian, for her birthday. What do you serve with the Ajiaco? I heard that it is typically served with avocado, capers, heavy cream and rice on the side. Is there a specific type of rice? What else? Thank you for this wonderful web site. I have truly enjoyed browsing through the recipes.

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15 Erica November 5, 2009 at 11:59 AM

Hi Jamie,
We serve ajiaco with plain white rice, avocado, capers and heavy cream! Thank you for the wonderful comment!

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16 Respondon November 11, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Guascas are “galinsoga parviflora,” a weed in North America that’s sometimes called Gallant Soldier. It is a nuisance around corn fields, and if you want to make an agricultural extension agent laugh, tell him (or her) that you *want* it because they’re accustomed to farmers who want to destroy it. But you shouldn’t gather it next to a corn field because it’s probably been sprayed. (That helpful advice is from the extension agent!) You can buy it dried at amigofoods.com and in Colombian stores in NY or Washington. Some people say that oregano is a good substitute but I don’t think so.

The frozen papa criolla work well for me, but the jarred ones (La Fe) have a chemical taste. When I don’t have papa criolla, I boil yukon gold potatos and then food-process them into a slurry that I add to the soup; I also use a packet of El Rey ajiaco seasoning.

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17 traci January 8, 2010 at 7:57 PM

erica, thank you so much for all of these recipes! my husband is colombian (i’m not) and he dearly, dearly, misses all of his favorite foods. these are wonderful, authentic recipes that i can’t wait to try out. i have read through many ajiaco recipes, and yours seems to be the closest to what we’re used to here in colombia. question: do the potatoes break down to thicken the soup, or do you mash them up a bit. (the ajiaco we eat seems to be thick and stew-like…)

thanks!

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18 Erica January 8, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Traci- You don’t have to mashed the potatoes. They usually break during the cooking process.

The papa criolla helps the soup to thick the soup, mine was pretty thick and delicious. Try it!

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19 traci January 10, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Thanks, Erica,
I definitely will try it and report back here. (Along with many of the other recipes!) We’re in Colombia right now, but when we get back, I’ll get to cooking!!

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20 traci February 5, 2010 at 12:06 PM

hi erica – i’m making the ajiaco today! i noticed that the red potatoes are listed twice on the recipe… are there a total of 3 red potatoes? thanks!

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21 Erica February 5, 2010 at 12:11 PM

Traci- 3 potatoes. Thank you for the comment! I fixed it :)

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22 Torie February 6, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Erica, Thanks for all the great recipes. I made your Ajiaco yesterday. It was so good! Capers are a must!

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23 Erica February 6, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Torie- Thank you for your feedback! Glad you liked it and you are right about the capers.

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24 Kimberly March 2, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Hi, I prepared this soup last night. It turned out delicious with a couple of tweaks. First, 1/3 cup of guascas was too much for our taste. We put all the potatoes together to cook. This allowed the papa criolla to break down and give the ajiaco that cloudy, thick texture. I served it with white rice, but the rice gets combined with the soup. Finally, we added aguacate to the soup after it was served. Yummy and we have lunch today! Thank you for the recipe!

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25 Tim March 8, 2010 at 10:30 AM

This soup was wonderful! You are amazing. Thank you very much.

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26 Shotdsherrif May 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM

One thing I would add to this recipe is fresh avocado as a side in the serving. The wonderful thing about Ajiaco is how it is prepared to be personally garnished at the table by each guest. In our family, we would remove the chicken and corn after cooking and put in a serving dish along with the capers, cream and fresh avocado. What is left is a flavorful chicken/potato soup. Then each person adds ingredients according to taste.

I am born in the USA but my family is originally from Bogota and this is definitely our signature dish. Thanks Erica for a great website. I have already sent my mom the recipe to make homemade almojabanas!

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27 Anonymous May 27, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I made this ajiaco for my Colombian husband last weekend and He kissed me for a long time :) He loved it. It was delicious.

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28 Maria June 14, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Erica,

thanks so much for sharing this recipe! I LOOOOOVE ajiaco, in fact if it was up to me I’d make a huge pot of it every sunday and eat it 2 or 3 times a day for the whole week!! Sadly my husband likes variety so I end up only making it 4 or 5 times a year. I think this is one of those dishes that each family makes just a little differently so my mom’s recipe is a little different than yours. I’m going to make it your way next time, that way I can have my favorite and hubby can have his variety!

BTW–For those who live somewhere that it is hard to find papa criolla sometimes I cheat a little bit and just add some mashed potato flakes close to the end of the cooking time to thicken up the soup.

And guascas definitely grow here as a weed I remember my grandmother coming for a visit to NYC and shouting with glee when she found a patch of guascas growing wild amongst the weeds. She’d send us out there every couple of weeks to pick them so she could make us some ajiaco :)

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29 Sólo Yo October 9, 2010 at 2:34 PM

I am a vegetarian so my best friend’s mother would make this for me without the chicken. I love this soup!!! It is true without the guascas and papa criolla it is not “proper” ajiaco.

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30 So grateful March 23, 2011 at 3:43 PM

My biological parents were both from Colombia and I was lucky enough to be adopted when I was 6. Anyway, my adopted parents are German so I never got to eat this soup after I left Colombia but I never forgot it. I searched all over the internet for this recipe and finally I have found that this recipe is the closest to the soup I remember.

Thank you!

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31 Carolina December 2, 2011 at 7:31 PM

I’m Colombian living in usa, yet I have no idea what guascas is, I eat ajiaco many times but never new what that guascas was, I thought it was the leave of the salary, we call it Apio, but I’m not sure, I’m also from Bogota so I don’t know if the recipe change which probably it does…. I’m trying to make it in a totally different way trying to adapt the dish as much as I can. this page was very helpful tho.

:D do you guys have a recipe for Colombian Tamales from tolima or Bogota?

TIA

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32 Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 2:48 PM

El verdadero ajiaco bogotano trae las papas completamente desechas. no se ven pero se siente el sabor

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33 Sarah January 19, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Thank you for your wonderful recipes!! My husband is Colombian and I love surprising him with a traditional dish of his! He gets so excited :) So many to choose from and all so delicious!

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34 Patricia January 22, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Aguien sabe si puedo conseguir guascas en Inglaterra?

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35 andrea March 2, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Las puedes conseguir si estas en London en seven sisters market
en la estacion que lleva el mismo nombre seven sisters arriba apenas salgas de la estacion veras un local que se llama el parador rojo entras al market a mano derecha encontarras el lugar de que te hablo

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36 Ama May 8, 2012 at 7:12 PM

What do people in colombia eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? How big is each meal?

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37 Hilda C December 12, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Where can I get “Papa Criolla”?? I am in Maryland!!

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38 J Bosque February 6, 2013 at 12:03 PM

At Trader Joe’s

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39 Ellie March 11, 2013 at 5:44 PM

i have had this before, love it..

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40 Jane September 15, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Good soup! Thank you for this recipe. I made it yesterday in our slow-cooker. We’re staying in Panama for a couple of months and my husband found the fresh guascas in the grocery store and I saw the papas criollas so then I needed a recipe. Recommendation: Don’t forget to serve with the cream or sour cream (I used a blend) and the capers — they elevate the soup from ordinary to memorable.

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41 Heli October 3, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Hi, this soup looks so good so i decided try to make it :) I want to learn some more columbian food because i looking for new taste of the world :)

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42 Melissa November 15, 2013 at 4:05 PM

This is my favorite. Perfect for a cool evening at home!!

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43 Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) November 17, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I’ve made ajiaco exactly once and thought it was about the best soup I’ve ever had, so had to come over for a look. I think the recipe I used was from Food and Wine, and I’m anxious to give this more authentic version a try. Now if I can just find that guacas! Thanks for the recipe. Pinned.

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44 Patricia Brown January 1, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Love your recipe! My dad is Colombian and we made the recipe today. He had a recipe that called for milk in the soup. Have you heard of this? The milk was in addition to the heavy cream that was on top. Do you whip the cream. The cream in your picture almost looked like sour cream. It looked really thick. Did you use sour cream or a specific Colombian cream?

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45 Cecilia February 8, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Thank you for bringing back the taste of the Colombian ajiaco to my family in the USA! It came out so good! This is the perfect recipe I made other ajiaco recipes an nothing like this one!!!!!!!!!!!

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46 Allard March 2, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Delicious ! Although I agree with the people who say you should use a bit less guascas (1/3 cup is too strong for my taste) and put the creoles together with the other potatoes. Thanks for this recipie !

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47 Jessie June 11, 2014 at 10:47 PM

Hi I’m from Colombia and it’s the first time that I’m going to make this recipe here in United States, I just wanted to know if any of you had already make it in crock pot! And if you had, can u tell me your experience?

Thanks!

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48 Erica Dinho June 12, 2014 at 8:36 AM

I am going to try some of my recipes using my slow cooker and will post the recipes here.

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49 Rafael June 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM

I was born in Colombia but moved to the States 50 years ago. Needless to say, I missed many of the typical dishes, ajiaco in particular. Every time I returned for a visit, my sister prepared for me the most delicious one as a special treat. Ever since I moved here I have looked for papas criollas, to no avail. The only ones I found were canned, and that was a different thing.
Well, about a week ago, I went to a Farmers Market here in Williamsburg, Virginia where I live, that is open once a week on Saturdays, and lo and behold, I finally saw papas criollas at a produce stand that belonged to a Mexican farmer senor Becerra. I couldn’t believe my eyes and was so happy that I bought almost the whole supply. Now that I have your recipe, I am going to try, and I am sure that my wife, who is “gringa”, is going to love it. I will report to you. So if anybody is looking for papas criollas, let me know.

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