Colombian Chicken Soup

Recipe updated May 5, 2011.

This is our version of a Colombian recipe (Ajiaco) that hinges on using several different kinds of potatoes, which are native to South America. The soup is served with a variety of garnishes, including a special salsa, “Aji”, that for us, truly defines the dish.

Ajiaco soup has all sorts of variations, but they all seem to rely on potatoes — some of which are cooked so long they dissolve, thickening the soup — corn (usually on the cob), and chicken. We decided to finely dice russet potatoes so they would dissolve quickly, and we pureed the soup base with an immersion blender, which saved hours of cooking time. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can either puree the soup base in a blender, or just cook it until the diced potatoes dissolve.

It’s important to use bone-on pieces of chicken here, as they are both cheaper and will make your soup broth more flavorful.

Garnishes are up to you. They almost always include capers, avocados and cilantro, and will often include a salsa or a crema, which, depending on your perspective is either thin sour cream or a thick regular cream.

We used tiny, multi-colored potatoes to finish the dish, but you can use any mix of potatoes — just make sure to not use all russets. Red skinned potatoes, purple potatoes, fingerlings and small Yukon Golds are all good choices.

Colombian Chicken Soup Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 10 to 12.

The real version of this dish requires a special herb called guasca, which is a unique flavor. We added bay leaves to get somewhere close.



Soup Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs and legs, skin removed, rinsed well
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds small potatoes, of various colors
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, cut crosswise into 1-2 inch rounds
  • Aji Ingredients:

    • 4 scallions (white and light green parts only)
    • 2 Roma or other plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 2 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles or 2 fresh hot red chiles, stems and seeds removed (wear gloves, do NOT touch your eyes!)
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
    • 3 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
    • Garnish: capers, sour cream, avocados, cilantro


1 Put the chicken, diced russet potatoes, chopped onion and garlic in a large (at least 8 quart) stock pot and add 1 1/2 quarts of water and the quart of chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer. Add the cumin, bay leaves and salt to taste. Simmer this until the meat wants to fall of the bones of the chicken — anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes.

2 When the chicken is ready, remove it and the bay leaves from the soup and set in a large bowl. If you are going to puree the soup base with an immersion blender or by putting the soup into a regular blender in batches, do so now.

3 Pour the pureed soup base back into the pot and bring to a very gentle simmer. Add the second batch of potatoes and cook until tender, about 20-40 minutes, depending on size.

4 While the potatoes are cooking, shred the meat off the chicken bones and set aside. Make the salsa by pulsing all the ingredients in a food processor until they're finely minced. Transfer to a serving bowl.

5 Drop the pieces of corn on the cob into the simmering soup and cook for 5 minutes.

6 Serve the soup with the salsa, capers, sliced avocados, sour cream, and cilantro in separate bowls. Let people add garnishes to their own servings.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

Ajiaco soup from Andrea of Andrea's Recipes
A light, spring version of Ajiaco Soup - from Bitchin' Camero
Sancocho, another Colombian Chicken Soup - from My Colombian Recipes

Showing 4 of 8 Comments

  • mac

    I came across this posting while searching for ajiaco recepies. While it is clearly stated that this recipe is a variation, here’s a couple thoughts regarding Ajiaco Bogatano: It is a traditonal Christmas time meal that is designed to warm the body and soul while sheep hearding up in the Andes mountains. What makes ajiaco more than chicken soup is Guascas. It is a dried herb (a weed in South America) that has no substitute. It adds a very earthy tone to the soup. You should be able to find it in a grocery that features South American items. Assemble the soup as follows: Make your broth first. One of my favorite both recipes is from Rick Bayless “Mexico, One Plate at a Time” adding the guascas to the broth. Next cook the potatoes in the broth. Use a combination of russets and reds. The russets will simply melt with cooking, and the reds should become little nubs. When I made this soup last month, I boiled the potatoes for 3 hours. Once you have a nice thick soup, cook whatever additional vegetables you want just before serving. I put corn, papas criollas (little yellow potatoes) in mine to finish. As for granish, the aji is essential, crema, avacado and definitly capers.
    Thanks for a great website. Cheers.

  • jeanpaul

    I lived in Colombia and I love this soup. To make it better you have to add yucca plant or plantain.

  • Sloan

    All of the chicken soup I ate in Colombia had chicken feet in it! This seems much more palatable!

    Note from Elise: I love chicken feet; they’re great for making stock. I bet the soup you had there was delicious.

  • Val

    I wish people understood that in most hispanic countries people don’t really like things all that spicy. Ajiaco is not suppose to be spicy at all. What makes it “special” is the cream that you put into it at the end. It turns the brown broth a whitish color. No Colombian soup would be complete if you didn’t add yucca and GREEN plantains (you can blend some of the green plantains, after they have been cooked through, to thicken the soup if you want). And the capers! You forgot the capers!

    I usually love this website for recipes but this one was just…wrong! Chiles?!? In Colombian Ajiaco?

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