Colombian Chicken and Potato Stew (Hearty Ajiaco)

Ajiaco (colombian chicken potato soup)
Juanmonino / Getty Images
  • 9 hrs 25 mins
  • Prep: 8 hrs 15 mins,
  • Cook: 70 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Ratings (6)

Ajiaco is a unique Colombian dish, especially beloved in the city of Bogota. It's a hearty chicken soup made with potatoes and corn on the cob. Small yellow Andean potatoes called papas criollas are the important ingredient -- they dissolve and thicken the soup as it cooks. It is a great menu for a cold night, all in one pot. Serve with artisan bread and Spanish albarino wine.

Ajiaco is seasoned with a Colombian herb called guascas and is traditionally served with slices of avocado, capers and a mild sour cream.

Cubans make a stew version of ajiaco that includes beef, pork, chicken and vegetables, and in Peru, this dish is a side dish of potatoes, garlic, chilies, and herbs.

You can usually find frozen papas criollas as well as dried guascas at Latin food markets -- they are worth seeking out if you decide to make this dish.

What You'll Need

  • Chicken and Potato Stew:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 large yellow onion (roughly chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed potatoes (red, Yukon gold, and russets), peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 to 3 ears fresh corn (cut crosswise into quarters) or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 bunch cilantro, with stems (washed well and tied with twine)
  • 1 bunch green onions (washed and tied with twine)
  • 2 tablespoons dried guascas
  • Toppings:
  • 2 avocados (pitted, peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup Crema Mexicana, sour cream or creme fraîche
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers (chopped)

How to Make It

  1. Place the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish. Top with the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy 4-quart lidded pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the chicken with its marinating bits and brown each side, about 6 minutes.
  5. Pour in the stock and raise the heat to high.
  6. When the mixture boils, lower the heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.
  1. Transfer the chicken to a platter, reserving the cooking liquid in the pot.
  2. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Cut or tear the chicken breasts into bite-size strips and discard the bones.
  3. Place the potatoes in the pot with the leftover cooking liquid and turn the heat to medium. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the corn, cilantro, green onions and the guascas.
  5. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but not overcooked.
  6. Remove the cilantro and green onions and return the chicken to the pot.
  7. Simmer a few minutes more until the chicken is warmed through.
  8. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and place the toppings on the table to be passed around.