How To Make Colombian Ajiaco without Traveling to Bogota

Colombian Ajiaco, a traditional Colombian soup chicken and potato soup made with corn on the cob, cilantro, and herb guascas. Hearty and full of flavor!

A chamba pot with Colombian ajiaco on a wood table with a side of rice, avocado, cream, and cilantro and a glass of wine.

Love hearty and flavorful soups? Ajiaco soup recipe was the culinary highlight our trip to Bogota and Colombia as a whole. We loved ajiaco so much that we reached out to a Colombian friend who shared this delicious recipe so you can recreate this much-loved soup from Bogota in your own home.

👉 Ready to learn how to make ajiaco soup without having to travel to Bogota? Let’s do it!


🇨🇴 Ajiaco origins

Ajiaco is a soup of chicken and three types of potatoes simmered in a light broth with onions, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and a small piece of corn on the cob. The soup is served in a sizzling chamba soup pot with white rice, sliced avocado, and a small pot of cream and side of capers for mixing.

The history of ajiaco is debated and many countries (including Cuba, Colombia, and Peru) claim its origin, but one thing is for sure–Colombians have perfected it.

Colombia, like other South American countries, has a deep history and culture built around the cultivation of potatoes. Ajiaco is a soup that was created to take advantage of the abundant potato harvest and traditionally includes three regional potato varieties: criolla, pastusa, and sabanera.

The dish is commonly found in near Bogota as the region is mountains with a colder climate, which is ideal for growing papas, or potatoes.


🍲 Ingredients

  • Chicken and chicken broth: Chicken is the base of ajiaco and it is cooked in the soup to flavor the broth, then shredded before serving. Chicken broth serves as the liquid of this soup.
  • Potatoes: A mixture of four different potatoes are traditional in ajiaco, but we’re using a mixture of colored new potatoes.
  • Vegetables: Onion, green onions, and garlic are used to add flavor and texture to the soup, and corn is traditionally boiled in the soup and serve whole on the cob.
  • Cilantro: Adds a pop of flavor and green color to ajiaco.
  • Seasonings: Salt and pepper are the main seasonings, beside the dried guascas herb (see box below for more information).
  • Toppings: The toppings are arguably the best part of ajiaco! White rice, sliced avocados, a side of heavy cream, and a bowl of capers are traditionally served on the side for topping.
  • Recommended tools: Alarge soup pot is necessary and, while not required, ajiaco is traditionally served in chamba soup pots (I have two of these chamba pots but if you want to be fancy, try higher end chamba pots). It makes the experience much more fun!

👉 Learn more about guascas: The secret ingredient in ajiaco that may be challenging for cooks living outside South America to acquire is the herb guascas. Guascas (galinsoga parviflora) is a plant in the daisy family that is used as an herb in many South American cuisines, but is especially prevalent in the cuisines of Colombia and Peru. Learn more about guascas, how to cook with it, and how to buy it here! In the United States and the UK guasca is known as quickweed, but I had a hard time finding it even at my local Latin grocer so buying on online is recommended.

Wow, this was delicious! Colombian Ajiaco, a traditional chicken and potato soup from Bogota. Made with three types of potatoes, corn, cilantro, green, onion, capers, cream, avocado, and the South American guascas herb, this Colombian soup will make you feel like you’re eating in Bogota! #colombia #colombianfood #soup #stew #bogotano

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Cook chicken and vegetables

The first step to making ajiaco is to cook the chicken and vegetables. To do this, heat a small bit of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add whole chicken breasts, chopped onions, and minced garlic.

Cook the chicken for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until it begins to brown, and the vegetables begin to soften.


2️⃣ Step Two: Cook soup

Once the chicken has browned and the vegetables are soft, add chicken stock, chopped cilantro leaves, sliced green onions, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried guascas herb.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chickecn breasts are cooked completely through, which takes about 20 minutes.


3️⃣ Step Three: Shred chicken and add potatoes

Once the chicken has been cooked through, remove it to a plate and let cool for a few minutes. In the meantime, add slice potatoes and cook in the soup until they’re tender, about 8 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, shred the chicken using a fork until the entire chicken breast has been shredded into small pieces.


4️⃣ Step Four: Simmer, season, and add corn

Add the shredded chicken breasts back to the soup and also add the cut corn on the cob. Simmer on low heat for another five minutes.

Taste test the soup and add more salt, pepper, or guascas if needed.


5️⃣ Step Four: Garnish and serve

When the soup is done, remove it from heat and serve it in a large bowl (or if you want to be traditional, serve it in a chamba pot).

Traditionally ajiaco is served white rice, sliced avocados, cream, and capers on the side which can then be added to the soup. Enjoy!

A chamba pot with Colombian ajiaco on a wood table with a side of rice, avocado, cream, and cilantro and a glass of wine and two people eating.

🧊 How to store

  1. Refrigerator storage: Store soup and its toppings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pot.
  2. Freezer storage: Soup can be frozen in freezer-friendly containers for up to 2 months and thawed in the refrigerator before reheating in a pot. Do not freeze toppings.
A chamba pot with Colombian ajiaco on a wood table with a side of rice, avocado, cream, and cilantro and a glass of wine.

🇨🇴 More Colombian-inspired recipes

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A chamba pot with Colombian ajiaco on a wood table with a side of rice, avocado, cream, and cilantro and a glass of wine.

Colombian Ajiaco {Potato and Chicken Soup}

Kristina Todini, RDN
Colombian Ajiaco, a traditional chicken and potato soup from Bogota. Made with three types of potatoes, corn, cilantro, green, onion, capers, cream, avocado, and the South American guascas herb, this Colombian soup will make you feel like you’re eating in Bogota!
4.88 stars (8 ratings)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Soups + Stews
Cuisine Colombian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 551 kcal

Ingredients
  

Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • 2 large onion chopped
  • 4 single garlic cloves minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon salt to taste
  • teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 whole green onions chopped (greens and whites)
  • 2 tablespoons guascas herb see notes
  • 2 pounds mixed potatoes red, gold, russet, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 ears corn cut into 2-3 inch pieces

Toppings

  • 2 cups white rice cooked
  • 2 whole avocados thinly sliced
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup capers drained

Instructions
 

  • Cook chicken and vegetables: Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chicken, onions, and garlic and brown outside of chicken for 1-2 minutes each side.
  • Cook soup: Add chicken stock, salt, pepper, cilantro, green onion, and guascas and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked throughout, about 20 minutes.
  • Add potatos + shred chicken: Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Add potatoes and corn and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. In the meantime, use a fork to shred chicken breasts.
  • Simmer and season: Add shredded chicken back to soup along with the corn on the cob. Simmer on low another five minutes. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or guascas if needed.
  • Garnish and serve: Serve in a chamba soup bowl with white rice, sliced avocados, cream, and capers.

Notes

  • Leftovers and storage: Colombian Ajiaco can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is also a soup that has more flavor after a few days and holds up well when frozen. We froze ajiaco and thawed it after a month and it was delicious.
  • Inspiration: This Colombian Ajiaco recipe was adapted from an authentic ajiaco recipe shared with my by our friends who own the El Pilon food truck in Portland, Oregon. Visit them!
  • Make it Healthy! The nutrition facts for Colombian Ajiaco below are an estimate. The recipe is as authentic as possible, which means nutrition and health were not a factor when it was developed. However, to lighten up this recipe and make a healthier Colombian Ajiaco recipe, reduce the oil and salt, use milk instead of heavy cream, and replace white rice with brown. Get creative!

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 551kcalCarbohydrates: 69gProtein: 37gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 801mgPotassium: 1338mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 370IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 3mg
Keyword colombian ajiaco, colombian soup
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in April 2018 and was updated in May 2022.

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22 Comments

  1. An easy and healthy recipe. What is guascas. Never heard of it. Can we also make this broth without it. Will try this recipe soon.

    1. Guascas is an herb that is from the dandelion family that is commonly used in Colombian cuisine. I provided an explanation in the post and also linked to where you can buy guascas online, but if you can’t find it then you can also use dried oregano (though the flavor isn’t exactly the same). Let me know how it turns out!

  2. I love discovering about a country through its food! I’ve never heard of guascas, but I’m going to see if I can grow it in my herb garden! Is it only used dried?

    1. Yes, from what I can see it is only sold dried (at least in the United States). You may be able to find it fresh in Colombia itself, but the products I found online have only been for the dried herb. Let me know if you try it!

      1. Discovered guascas growing in my New Hampshire garden in late summer – it’s a common weed in North America called “quickweed”.

        1. Great to know, Pam! It’s a delicious herb, but I had a hard time finding it at first when I first started cooking ajiaco. I’ve always ordered it offline, but now I’ll have to see if my favorite local spice shop carries quickweed. Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Hi Kitty, I’m Colombian and guascas (at least in ajiaco) are way tastier when they’re fresh. So if you’re thinking of growing guascas in your herb garden, don’t bother going through the process of drying them.

      1. Great tip, Irene! It’s hard to find them in the US fresh, but if they’d be a great addition to a kitchen herb garden. Thanks for stopping by, I absolutely love the delicious food from your beautiful country.

  3. This is a totally new soup to me and now I really want to try it. Potatoes, corn, chicken and all of those layers of flavor, it sounds so good!

  4. Isn’t it fun discovering a new dish from a different cuisine. The herbs and spices are also fun to try because they give the dish such a distinctive taste. The soup looks fantastic and I really think your presentation is simply lovely.

    1. Thank you! And yes, my favorite way to travel is to taste my way around a new country by trying its food. I love trying new ingredients and flavors to take home and test in my own kitchen.

  5. This soup sounds amazing and what a cool memory it is tied to. That’s crazy that you decided to go to Bogota just a week before! Cannot wait to try this soup!

  6. I love all of the flavors here! This looks so delicious and perfect for dinner. My husband would love it!

  7. In the USA this herb called Galinsoga parviflora is a common garden weed called Galinsoga, or Gallant Soldiers. It can be found in more complete edible wild plant books but is usually weeded out rather than eaten. Energetically, if you are aware on such levels, it has a very high vibration that can lift you to another level… gently but subtly. We blender a handful in water, strain, and add the green juice to ceremonial cacao for an increased spiritual acceleration. blessings

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