Colombian Chicken and Corn Soup

Ajiaco

As Adelaida Gaviria from Medellin, Columbia (pronounced MedeGEENE) taught Lindsay Sterling in Bowdoinham, Maine.

Note: Adelaida said this dish (pronounced AH hee AH Ko), originated in Bogota, but has come to be a favorite across much of the country.  
Cooking time: 45 min
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 bone-in breasts
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 large potatoes (she prefers Yukon Gold variety)
  • 2 Tbsp dried guascas, a Columbian herb available at latin markets or online
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 3 ears corn on the cob or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup cream

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • paring knife
  • peeler 
  • soup pot
  • tongs or slotted spoon
  • shallow dish for cooling chicken
  • immersion blender or mortar and pestle
  • lettuce spinner (ideally)
  • small bowl for serving capers on the table
  • creamer for serving cream at the table
  • soup bowls and spoons for serving

Instructions

1. Cover chicken with 2 inches of water in a large soup pot on high heat. Add 5 cloves sliced garlic, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Once water boils, turn heat down to keep the chicken simmering until it is cooked throughout. Wash hands and any utensils or surfaces that touched raw chicken.

2. While chicken is cooking, peel potatoes, slice them in half, and then into 1/4-inch slices. Wash and chop the cilantro. Put half of it in a small bowl for guests to garnish their soup at the table, and reserve the other half for use in a bit.

3. Once the chicken is cooked (opaque throughout), remove it from broth and put it in a shallow dish to cool. 

4. Use an immersion blender to blend the garlic slices into the broth. If you don't have an immersion blender, scoop out the garlic with a slotted spoon, mash it in a mortar and pestle with a little broth, and whisk that mixture into the broth in the pot. 

5. Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the broth. Rub 2 Tbsp guascas between your hands letting it fall into the pot. Add chopped cilantro. Bring to a simmer and add potato slices.

6. Once chicken is cool enough to the touch, rip it into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and add the pulled chicken back to the broth.

7. Once the potato slices are almost cooked, add corn to the soup and simmer another 8 minutes until corn is cooked. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper if needed.

8. Serve soup in guests' bowls. Top each bowl with 2 quarters of ripe avocado. Invite guests to add capers, cream, and cilantro to their bowls at the table as desired.