Colombian Chicken Soup

Colombian chicken soup made with chicken thighs and legs, onion, corn, potatoes, cilantro, capers and a special Columbian Ajiaco sauce.

Colombian Chicken Soup
Elise Bauer

This is our adaptation of a classic Colombian chicken recipe called Ajiaco. The soup 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 truly defines the dish.

What is Ajico Soup?

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.

Colombian Chicken Soup
Elise Bauer

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 for Colombian Chicken Soup

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

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 90 mins
Total Time 115 mins
Servings 10 to 12 servings

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

  • Kosher 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 fresh corn, cut crosswise into 1 to 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 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Garnish: capers, sour cream, avocados, cilantro

Special Equipment

  • Food processor


  1. Cook the chicken, russets, onion, and garlic in stock and water:

    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. Remove the chicken and bay leaves and purée some of the soup base:

    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. Simmer the soup base with additional potatoes:

    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 to 40 minutes, depending on size.

  4. Shred the chicken meat off the bones:

    While the potatoes are cooking, shred the meat off the chicken bones and set aside.

  5. Make the salsa:

    Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until they're finely minced. Transfer to a serving bowl.

  6. Cook the corn in the stock:

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

  7. Serve:

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

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
418 Calories
17g Fat
34g Carbs
33g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10 to 12
Amount per serving
Calories 418
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 148mg 49%
Sodium 445mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 17mg 84%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 1104mg 23%
*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. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.