Ajiaco (Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup) Recipe

Ajiaco: Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup

Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

All potatoes originated in the Andes, and Colombia has quite a selection of them, the best being the small, yellow, creamy, buttery papas Criollas. They're eaten deep fried, salt roasted, boiled, or—my wife's favorite method—cooked into ajiaco, a classic chicken and potato soup from the mountains around Bogotá.

Extraordinarily simple in execution (dump and boil), its appeal comes from the use of three different types of potatoes, ranging from starchy to waxy. As the soup simmers away, the starchy potatoes break down completely, thickening the soup to a luxuriously creamy consistency, while the papas criollas provide an earthy, buttery flavor. Waxy potatoes remain more intact, adding textural contrast. Guascas, a native mountain herb with an aroma somewhere in between bay leaf, catnip, and parlsey, adds a distinct flavor (you can just use bay leaves and parsley).

The soup is served along with a generous fixin's bar: shredded chicken breast, tangy sour cream for richness, capers that add a tang to cut through the rib-sticking broth, and an onion and cilantro-base aji (which is, by the way, good on everything). Large-kerneled, starchy South American corn (sometimes called Cuzco corn) is boiled along with the potatoes and eaten during the meal, as are slices of Avocado. Not the creamy Hass variety, but the more watery, refreshing Fuerte cultivar.

This is about as simple, delicious, and comforting as food gets.

September 29, 2010

Recipe Details

Ajiaco (Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup) Recipe

Active 20 mins
Total 75 mins
Serves 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 quarts homemade chicken stock (or low-sodium canned stock)

  • 1 whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, split (12 to 16 ounces total)

  • 1 large onion, split in half

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2 medium) peeled and cut into rough 1-inch chunks

  • 2 pounds papas Criollas (about 20 potatoes), peeled

  • 1 pound Red Bliss potatoes (about 2 small), peeled, split into quarters lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices

  • 1/4 cup dried guascas (see notes)

  • 2 ears corn, shucked and broken into 3 pieces each

  • 1 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  • 1 serrano or 1/2 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely minced

  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1/2 cup sour cream, thinned with 1 tablespoon milk

  • 1/2 cup capers, rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped

  • 1 ripe avocado, preferably smooth, light-green fuerte variety, sliced into wedges


  1. Combine chicken stock, chicken breast, onion, bay leaves, potatoes, and guascas in a large saucepot or Dutch oven. Add more water if necessary to cover solids by 1-inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken breast is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken breast to plate and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

    Pot of chicken stock, chicken, onion, potatoes, and spices. A plated piece of chicken breast.

    Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

  2. Continue to simmer potatoes until russets and papas Criollas are completely tender and falling apart, about 45 minutes longer, adding more water as necessary. Discard onion and bay leaves. Using whisk, mash potato pieces against side of pot and stir vigorously to thicken soup. The soup should be thick, with large chunks of potatoes still remaining.

    Pot of soup, with soft, tender potatoes. A whisk mixing the potatoes into the soup.

    Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

  3. Add corn cobs and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is cooked and soup is thickened to the consistency of thick heavy cream, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

    A pot of soup with corn cobs.

    Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

  4. While soup is cooking, make the aji: Combine onion, cilantro, and chile pepper in small serving bowl and add water until just covered. Season generously with salt and stir to combine. Set aside. Discard chicken skin and bones. Shred meat into bite-size pieces and set aside in serving bowl.

    A small bowl of aji, containing onion cilantro, and chile pepper. A bowl of shredded chicken.

    Serious Eats / Mariel De La Cruz

  5. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, passing picked chicken, chopped capers, sour cream, and aji table-side for diners to add to their bowl. Serve avocado slices on the side.


Papas Criollas are small, creamy yellow Colombian potatoes with a unique buttery flavor and texture. They can occasionally be found frozen in Latin markets. If unavailable, substitute small Yukon Golds or yellow fingerling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks. Guascas is a Colombian herb. It can be found in some Latin markets, or ordered online from amigofoods. If unavailable, replace with an extra 2 bay leaves (remove along with other bay leaves in step 2), plus 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley leaves.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
641 Calories
11g Fat
107g Carbs
32g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 641
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 1584mg 69%
Total Carbohydrate 107g 39%
Dietary Fiber 13g 45%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 59mg 297%
Calcium 120mg 9%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 2913mg 62%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)