Ajiaco- Colombian Chicken Soup

Ajiaco ( phonetically pronounced Ah-He-A-Ko) is a wonderful seasonal delight that is a very popular Chicken soup in Colombia, South America.  The key to the soup is the sauce you add called Aji and the herb, “Guascas” which can be found on www.amazon or substituted with dried oregano or bay leaf and parsley.

Soup is considered a staple of Colombia for all social classes and ethnic groups. It meets the needs of Colombians living in hot and colder climates,


The smells of the soup are memorable and remain with us forever like so many dishes we grow up with. As my grandma taught me, the aroma of food evokes family gatherings and often, warm feelings. I remember my friend who studied in London who said he always knew where to exit on the tube because his stop was just after the Indian section of town that smelled of curry.

Ingredients for Ajiaco soup are easy to find today even if you are not shopping in a Latin neighborhood. Substitutes are also easy to locate.

The Recipe for Ajiaco
Serves 6 – 8

Soup Ingredients
4 lbs. chicken parts, including thighs and breasts, rinse well with skin removed
5 cups of water plus 5 cups of chicken stock
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 leek, trim the ends and cut into 1-inch rounds
1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh or frozen
2 stalks of celery, cut on angle into 1 inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and cut on an angle into 1-inch pieces
1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 lb. yucca (Also called Cassava; available in most groceries) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, diced
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon. freshly ground black pepper
Puree More Ingredients for the Sauce
2 tablespoons Guascas or substitute with dried oregano
4 scallions, chop both white and green
1/2 28 ounce can of plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
1/4 fresh habanero, deseeded ( wash hands, knife, & cutting board afterwards)
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons, white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon, sea salt

Garnish Options
2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup small capers
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Soup Directions
1. Put the chicken with skin removed in a large stockpot and add 10 cups water and broth.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer for 10 minutes, frequently skimming off the foam that floats to the surface.
3. Add all the soup vegetables, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Next add the pureed Aji and the Colombian herb, Guasca or the substitute.
4. When the broth returns to a gentle boil, simmer 1 hour.
5. Remove chicken, pull apart and shred with two forks, and set aside.
6. Remove the potatoes and yucca and set aside,
7. Pour the broth through a chinoise or sieve used as a strainer.
8. Discard the bones and any organ meats or save for snacks.
9. Place the shredded chicken, potatoes, yucca and pureed Aji in the pot and heat for an additional 20-25 minutes.

10. Serve the Ajiaco soup with garnish on the side. Enjoy and share with your friends!

Please contact Chef Alan with any questions or comments :