This is a hearty soup, verging on stew. The broth is rich and creamy but without any cream! It’s made from chicken stock, pureed corn and grated potatoes. Once the soup has cooked down to a wonderfully thick consistency, more corn and potatoes are added, along with shredded chicken, carrots, cilantro, and lime juice. The final tasty layer is a garnish of cubed avocado and salty capers.
Chicken thighs are so delicious when you simply salt and pepper them, drizzle a little olive oil over them, and roast them in the oven for 20 minutes. Then they can easily be shredded and added to the soup.
Ajiaco is a very popular dish in Bogota – Colombia’s capital city. My version is inspired by the classic Colombian dish but not quite the same. The traditional recipe calls for whole chunks of corn on the cob. I opted for kernels. Another ingredient always found in the traditional version is an herb called guasca, which is common in South America but also not so easy to find outside of SA – at least not in Newton Massachusetts. Luckily, a couple of bay leaves simmered in the broth make a good substitute.
I like to serve this soup with a simple mixed green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes and a limey dressing. It makes a great weeknight dinner but I also wouldn’t hesitate to serve Ajiaco to company – it’s got layers of great taste plus a touch of the exotic!
- 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- several grinds of fresh ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
- 5 cups low salt chicken broth (such as Swanson's), divided
- 2 cups corn kernels, divided (fresh or frozen & defrosted)
- 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves (substitute 2 teaspoons chopped guasca, if you can find it)
- 2 medium baking potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and grated or finely diced.
- 3 medium yukon gold potatoes or other waxy potatoes (about 1 pound) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes.
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise (about ¾ cup)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup cubed avocado, spritzed with a little lime juice to keep it from turning brown
- 1½ tablespoons capers, rinsed
- Roast the chicken thighs Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Spread thighs out in a large baking dish that holds them in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove baking dish from oven. Cover with foil and set aside for 10-15 minutes. Shred chicken by hand or by pulling it apart with two forks.
- Make corn puree In a blender, puree 1 cup of corn with 1½ cups chicken broth. Set aside.
- Make soup base Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup kettle over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened. Pour corn puree to the pot, along with the grated or finely diced baking potatoes, the remaining 3½ cups chicken broth, oregano, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cubed yukon gold potatoes and sliced carrots to the pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Finish the soup Add shredded chicken plus any accumulated juices in the baking dish, the remaining cup of corn, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through. Remove bay leaves.
- Garnish with avocado and capers