A classic Ajiaco recipe made with different kinds of potatoes, spices, chicken, corn, guascas a (Colombian herb) and served with capers and cream. This Colombian chicken soup is thick, comforting and filling.
What is Ajiaco?
There are different versions of Ajiaco Bogotano o Santafereño, but it’s a soup usually made with chicken, 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 Santafereño is a feel-good comfort food and I like to serve it with avocado on the side. In Colombia Ajiaco is traditionally cooked in clay pots like the one I used in the pictures, but if you don't own one, just use a regular large pot to make this popular Colombian soup.
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. Comforting, filling and absolutely delicious makes this Colombian chicken soup the perfect meal during the cold weather.
Ajiaco can be eaten for lunch or dinner and will keep you full and satisfied. I like to served my ajiaco with avocado and a green salad on the side.
Colombian Ajiaco Recipe
- 3 chicken breast skin removed
- 12 cups water
- 3 ears fresh corn cut into 2 pieces
- Salt and 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
- ⅓ cup guascas
- 1 cup heavy cream for serving
- 1 cup capers for serving
- 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 30 to 35 minutes, until chicken is cooked and tender. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Continue cooking the corn for about 15 more minutes. Discard green onion and add red potatoes, white potatoes, and the guascas. Cook for 15 more minutes.
- Uncover and add the frozen papa criolla and simmer for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
- Shred the chicken breast and return to the pot. Serve the Ajiaco hot with capers and heavy cream on the side.
- You can find dried guascas on Amazon.
- In the USA yo can find frozen papa criolla in Latin markets.
- I like to serve Ajiaco with avocado and a light salad on the side.
Looking for more chicken soup recipes to try? Here are a few of my favorites:
Sancocho de Gallina (Chicken or Hen Sancocho)
Cilantro-Lime Rice and Chicken Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup (Sopa de Pollo con Pasta)
Caldo de Pollo con Papas (Chicken Broth with Potato Soup)
Sopa de Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice Soup)
I love ajiaco! Great Recipe.
I have had Ajiaco in Bogota served with white rice, avocado, capers and cream on the side. In the US I use the yellow Yukon potatoes and they are quite good with it.
Never with rice. Sorry 🙁
Always with rice, at restaurants in Bogota.
Linda M Abadia
El arroz es opsional, es rico con el y rico sin el.
I've had it three times. Once in the States and twice in Colombia. It was always served with rice.
I'm from Colombia and it always comes with rice on the side. It's supposed to have it 😀
Yes!! With white rice and avocado. Im from Bogotá.
Always with rice as a side and avocado.. trust me i'm from bogota..
Hello Maria, I hope you are doing well.....the Ajiaco looks delicious......I have been chatting with some ladies from Colombia and find them to be very friendly......You said you were from Bogota.......Do you live there, or in a different country?
Always with rice.
Always with rice.
Oh hell yes
I’m Colombian, always with rice
Always with rice!!!rice is as important as the guascas
Is always with rice in the side
Try using three different types of potatoes, Yukon, red and russet. Im sure your version is good. But i bet it would taste different with the three different potatoes
Haven’t cooked it yet but I will very soon! A couple of questions tho, are the papa criolla frozen first? Is the guascas dried or fresh? Is there a specific heavy cream that you use? Thanks!
I buy frozen papa criolla here in the USA, because I can't find fresh here.I also have to use dried guascas, because I can't find fresh her in the USA. I use organic heavy cream.
If you live outside Colombia, you might find them frozen in Colombian shops. If you live in Colombia no need to freeze them. If you have fresh guascas, then, better. Dried guascas wörk ok too. Any type of cream goes well. I like sour cream specially 🙂
Nora Olave Shibusawa
When making ajiaco we, Colombians, do NOT mince the garlic, we just break it a little bit, otherwise the ajiaco will taste garlicky.
Oh this looks delicious - great comfort food as you say. I'll have to try this recipe soon 🙂
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.
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.
La Bodeguita Elephant and Castle London Colombian restaurant absolutely delicious
Andrea, do you know colombians restaurants in Manchester?
Colombia NOT Columbia
Colombia with O please not COLuMBIA
Colombian. lot's of filet'd meat too.
5 Star Foodie
How wonderful to learn more about Columbian food from your blog! This soup looks soooo good!
It is Colombia, not Columbia.
Just to set it straight, this is the country on the tip north of South America....and their gastronomy is absolutely amazing. On the northern coast on the Caribbean they eat a lot of seafood served with coconut rice which gives just the right touch of sweet. Must try!!
Maggie you can find guascas online.
This sounds delicious! I have to be on the lookout to see if I can find guascas.
Amazon has guascas and the papas criollas
Omg!!! ALWAYS serve Ajiaco with White Rice AND Avocado!!!
I am from Bogotá. This IS the way to serve it.
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!
Thank you for your comment.
Is there anything I can subtitute for guascas...im in canada and cant
get that here 🙁
I don't think so! Sorry!
You can buy it in Latino grocery stores here in Canada. I'm in Ottawa and can get it here.
I got it on Amazon.
If you are in Toronto you can find them.
Amazon has the Columbian herbs.
You can get it on Amazon
Can you use chicken stock instead of cubes? If so how much would you recommend?
Yes, yes replace the water for chicken stock or broth.
Thank you so much!
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.
We serve ajiaco with plain white rice, avocado, capers and heavy cream! Thank you for the wonderful comment!
My wife is Colombian and she always adds a little salt, finely chopped white or yellow onion and about 2 - 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic all cooked with the rice.
My wife also combines a small bottle of non-pareil capers and some finely chopped onion (white) in a small serving dish so everyone can add it to their own taste. For the cream she uses the brand called La Lechera crema de leche (milk cream) by Nestle.
Hope this helps.
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.
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...)
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!
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!!
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!
Traci- 3 potatoes. Thank you for the comment! I fixed it 🙂
Erica, Thanks for all the great recipes. I made your Ajiaco yesterday. It was so good! Capers are a must!
Torie- Thank you for your feedback! Glad you liked it and you are right about the capers.
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!
This soup was wonderful! You are amazing. Thank you very much.
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!
I made this ajiaco for my Colombian husband last weekend and He kissed me for a long time 🙂 He loved it. It was delicious.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
😀 do you guys have a recipe for Colombian Tamales from tolima or Bogota?
El verdadero ajiaco bogotano trae las papas completamente desechas. no se ven pero se siente el sabor
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!
Aguien sabe si puedo conseguir guascas en Inglaterra?
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
What do people in colombia eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? How big is each meal?
Where can I get "Papa Criolla"?? I am in Maryland!!
At Trader Joe's
i have had this before, love it..
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.
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 🙂
This is my favorite. Perfect for a cool evening at home!!
Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
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.
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?
Without a real crema, I'd mix heavy cream w sour cream (50/50).
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!!!!!!!!!!!
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 !
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?
I am going to try some of my recipes using my slow cooker and will post the recipes here.
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.
If you're stuck on guascas, try looking for "potato weed"- the scientific name is galinsoga parviflora. Or just make it without it. The Colombian version uses it, but the Cuban version of ajiaco doesn't.
This is the best ajiaco ever!! La mejor receta de ajiaco que se pueda encontrar!! Como Colombiana y Costeña (Cartagenera) puedo garantizarles que el sabor es justamente como si estuviéramos en nuestro amado país.. Colombia¡¡¡¡ Gracias Erica, realmente todas tus recetas son espectaculares y autenticas en el sabor de la comida Colombiana...
I made this recipe with minor alterations. Never been to Colombia (allthough I've tried Colombian burgers and several arepas so I know the food is great). Ordered guascas online, but if I should suggest a substitute it would be a combination of a small amount of peeled jerusalem artichokes (for a earthy note) and a little thyme (for herbyness). Jerusalem artichoke or white asparagus is probably as close as you can come, flavorwise.
I gave up on papas criollas which is impossible to get here in Europe so I used local flavorful potato varieties instead like "almond potato". Turned out to be an awesome soup. Served some Ají on the side for extra kick but you really don't need it.
Finding papas criollas outside of South America is extremely hard. I found a company in the USA that will ship them, but they want a frankly ridiculous price. They charge a fair price of $20USD for the potatoes, but another $110USD on top of that for shipping... and I live only about 300 miles away from their storefront. I thought about buying in bulk to try to make it worthwhile, but that extra $110 is stacked on top of every single instance you buy.
I've had luck using old Russet potatoes here in the states. Any potato that isn't "waxy" will work - you want something that will basically dissolve if you cook it enough. Some people make mashed potatoes separately and then re-add that to the soup. I have luck enough using large, old potatoes.
This was awesome! I am excited to make some delicious ajiaco!
Are the papas criollas the same as hello potatoes?
This Ajiaco was fantastic! Just like the one I had in Bogota.
Absolutely delicious !! 🙂
Does someone know the total cost of this recipe?
Does anyone know where to find the guascas in the Netherlands? Eastern part, Enschede region if possible...
Thanks for the recipe!
You can find dried guascas on Amazon.
I love ajiaco.
I was fortunate enough to get to Colombia a couple of years ago, and the food there was so amazing. The worst part is knowing that I will probably never be there again - I went as part of a work trip, and I'm no longer in that job.
I found Colombia to be one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in my life. The weather was glorious! Cool, crisp, and rainy... just fresh air and wonderful green growing things everywhere. I spent the majority of my not-work time eating!
Ajiaco Bogotano is one of the best-kept secrets in the culinary world. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, and we have demystified food from nearly every Asian and European cuisine. We have miles of restaurants from various African countries. We're working on Eastern European cuisine now; I've seen borscht restaurants open with dumplings / pieroshkis / pierogies in various forms all over. I can walk down the street and get eight types of barbeque, nato, paella, and ugali. But for some reason, the cuisine of South American is largely overlooked here.
I currently have a large pot of ajiaco on the stove, thanks to this site. Thank you so much for helping me bring a tiny part of Colombia to my house!
The first dish I ever learned to make was Ajiaco. I lived in a room I rented from a couple and she was from Colombia. Yolanda made Ajiaco and showed me how to make it. I have made it ever since and this dish inspired my love of ethnic foods. She cooked the potatoes, corn and chicken together which created a lovely broth. We garnished with lime, avocado, cilantro and sour cream. I'm sure this was her "American" version as this was in the late seventies and I lived in a town that was not very ethnically diverse. We did not have specialty stores back then. Thank you for the memories and I think I will try to make the more authentic version this weekend.
I lived in Bogotá back in the 80's and had Ajiaco every Monday. I now live in South Florida and we have good Colombian restaurants, so I get my fix!!! What I find missing is the AJÍ CASERO, a spicy vinaigrette which adds another layer of flavor! Maybe you have that recipe on your board! I will look for it as well as Mantecada!!
I love Colombia!!!
I remember eating this in someone's home in the Old Town of Bogota, up in the hills in a very old Colonial home. They served it with crema, capers, and I believe what they called AJI which was close to a salsa or pico de gallo. I also think that there were also yuca as well as the various types of potatoes and the corn has to be what Americans call Cow Corn which gives the soup its characteristic flavor along w cilantro. It was really the culinary highlite of my trip and we went and ate everywhere...(although the horsemeat kabobs w a salt potato in Manizales were to die for and I ate many even when they told me it was horse...). Been looking at all the wonder recipes from Colombia and waxing nostalgic over them and all the amazing things Colombia has to offer.
Viajar por Colombia
Interesting article! Colombia has a really delicious gastronomy. Their typical dishes are very flavorful and their desserts are amazing. One of the dishes I loved the most was the Ajiaco, it is so tasty that I could not stop eating it. I share with you an article that shows the story of this dish: https://colombiabybus.co/eating/ajiaco-typical-dish-bogota/
Does the recipe need dried or fresh guascas? I have dried guacas and wanted to know if that would change the amount in the recipe.
I used dried guascas for this recipe. I can't find fresh guascas in the USA.
Thank you for the recipe. Is it possible to just use chicken broth or stock instead of water with bouillon cubes? I find these have MSG in them and avoid it. If so, what would the ratio? And how would you modify the water amount?
Thank you so much for your delicious recipe. A Colombian friend recommended your blog when I asked her for recipes. I have several more planned for this weeks menu.
I had it as a teen in the mid 2000´s in Bogota when I visited my aunt who lived in South america from 20 years of her life with red cross and aid at embassy . Never been able to find papa criolla in Europe. Now I am 30 soon and i am cooking it once every 6 months. It´s my favorite dish of all times.
Hi, just wondering if you have a suggested for a appetizer/entrada to serve with this? Is there a typical Colombian salad you would recommend? Thanks!
Most Colombian meals are accompanied by Colombian arepas and or Patacones
Buenos días. Soy bogotana y el ajiaco es un plato típico, delicioso, las invito a preparar esta receta y preferiblemente acompañada de arroz y aguacate, pero es al gusto de cada un@.
I had it in a farm abut 30 miles south of Facatativa. They used a kind of potato that dissolved when it was cooked. That thickened it. I seem to remember it was all combined in a pot, and all of the manipulations I read here wouldn't have been possible anyway, on an open stove with a gigantic pot.
I ordered some guascas online, only to discover that this plant grows as a weed here in the USA and that it was growing right in front of my house.
Anyway, I used the fresh guascas to make the ajiaco and I didn’t die. The recipe turned out pretty good , although my chicken turned out dry.
I didn’t have the papás criollas so I used a mix of small potatoes and something that looked similar. They didn’t fall apart like the criollas do so I used my immersion blender to create the thickness ajiaco usually has.
A good recipe but tastes much better eating it in Bogota.
Thanks for the recipe. I made it today and it was delicious. 🙂
I have found a Colombian restaurant in Madrid (Spain) that has it on the menu.
Patacón Pisao, Calle de las Delicias, 10, 28045 Madrid - near Atocha station
When I have had it in Colombia it has come with patatas saladas (salted potatoes) on the side but never rice.
Hi Erica. Just to clarify, that is ⅓ cup DRIED guascas yes?
I adore ajiaco, this recipe is best. Just like my mom's ajiaco colombiano, but she died and never wrote her recipe. Thank you for this amazing blog.
Colombian Ajiaco is a chicken soup recipe that's big on flavor. I love making this recipe. It reminds me of my home city of Bogota.
Ajiaco is a wonderful Colombian dish, especially during a cold day. I had my first ajiaco in Bogota 10 years ago. I love this recipe.