Month: November 2008


Ajiaco of Bogotá.
Ajiaco of Bogotá.

Ajiaco is a potato soup from Colombia. Although several regions of Colombia have their distinct recipe, the most famous is ajiaco santafereño, named after Santa Fé de Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, where it is a cultural mainstay. It typically contains pieces of chicken on the bone, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes (tiny papas criollas that fall apart and thicken the soup, the waxy sabanera and/or the soft pastusa), and guasca (Galinsoga parviflora), a weedy, aromatic herb common in all America that lends the dish part of its distinctive flavour.

The soup is typically served with heavy cream, capers and avocado, all mixed in just before eating in the proportions each individual prefers. Ajiaco is so heavy that, served with a side of white rice, it is usually considered a full meal. In the highly regional Colombian cuisine, this is the dish most representative of Bogotá.

In recent years, guascas have become easier to find in Latin American groceries in the US. Though purists may insist on using genuine guascas, others might substitute oregano in a pinch.

Soups called ajiaco can be found in other regions of Latin America, though some share almost nothing with the traditional bogotano recipe apart from the name. The name is likely derivative of the word ají, a Taíno word for “hot pepper” which has become generalized in South American Spanish (equivalent to chile in Mexican Spanish). Though the modern Colombian ajiaco contains no ají, it is probably derived from spicier indigenous dishes.

Ajiaco is also a Cuban recipe, a kind of stew. Cuban ethnologist Fernando Ortiz once defined the country as an ajiaco, alluding to the role that Spanish, African and Chinese cultures had in the definition of the national identity. For Cubans, ajiaco also means something that contains many ingredients.  Ajiaco,



* 1 whole skin-on bone-in chicken breast (approximately 750g)
* 1 l chicken broth
* 1 onion, peeled
* 2 scallions (white part and first 2 cm of green)
* 2 carrots, peeled
* 4 cloves garlic, peeled
* 1 bay leaf
* 3 ml dried thyme
* 2 ml ground cumin
* 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
* 10 black peppercorns
* 5 ml tomato paste
* .5 kg small yellow potatoes. peeled
* .5 kg small purple potatoes. peeled
* .5 kg mashing potatoes, peeled and sliced 2 cm thickness
* 1 l water
* 2 ml of beef bullion granules
* .25 ml of frozen peas


* 4 ears of corn, quartered lengthwise and cooked
* 10 ml of whipping cream mixed with 10 ml of créme fraíche
* 2 ripe but firm Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into eight slices right before serving
* 10 ml of finely chopped cilantro


1. Combine chicken, broth, onions, scallions, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, cumin, cilantro and peppercorns in large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Skim off froth as it rises. Reduce heat to low and cover when frothing finishes.

2. Remove and reserve chicken after it is cooked through (approximately 20 minutes).

3. Strain broth through sieve and return to pot, boil again over medium heat. Reserve carrots.

4. Add tomato paste and yellow and purple potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes are soft (approximately 20 minutes).

5. While yellow and purple potatoes are cooking, boil sliced mashing potatoes in water and beef bullion in separate pot. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat until potatoes start to fall apart (approximately 30 minutes).

6. Drain and reserve a quarter of the slices and mash the rest of the sliced potatoes. Add mashed and sliced potatoes to soup.

7. Remove bones and skin from chicken and discard. Cut chicken into strips 1 cm wide and 3 cm long.

8. Add chicken and peas to soup and simmer for 5 minutes. Slice the carrots into .5 cm thick rounds and add back into soup. Salt to taste.

9. Serve hot with garnishes available.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder


* Two 6.5-ounce cans of minced clams
* Lowfat cooking spray
* 2 medium stalks celery, chopped
* 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
* 1 small onion, chopped
* One 8-ounce can of clamato juice (combination of clam and tomato juice)
* 2 cups of red potatoes, chopped
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* Fresh ground pepper, to taste
* One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1.Drain the clams but reserve the juice from the cans into a measuring cup and if necessary, add water until you have 1-1/2 cups of liquid, then set aside.

2.Spray a large saucepan with lowfat cooking spray. Raise heat to medium-high heat then sauté celery, carrot, and onion until crisp-tender (about 3-4 minutes.)

3.Stir in reserved clam juice, canned clamato juice, potatoes, thyme, cayenne and black pepper. Raise heat to bring to boiling then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.Add the tomatoes and minced clams, raise heat again to bring to boiling then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Spicy Potato and Pea Soup

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4


* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

* 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 2 garlic cloves, minced

* 1 teaspoon garam masala

* 1 teaspoon ground coriander

* 1 teaspoon ground cumin

* 3-1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

* 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

* 4 tablespoons plain, nonfat yogurt

* Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)


1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

2.Sprinkle the garam masala, coriander and cumin over the potato mixture then gently toss to coat and cook an additional minute.

3.Add the vegetable broth and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4.Add the peas and yogurt then season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes then serve.
* Spicy Potato and Pea Soup from the Public Health Cookbook — original source of recipe, government resource licensed in the public domain

Traditional French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup

Serves: 6-8


* 1/3 cup butter or margarine

* 5 cups thinly sliced onions, about 2 pounds

* 4 cans (10 1/2 ounces each) condensed beef broth

* 1 soup can water

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/8 teaspoon pepper

* 6 to 8 French bread slices, 1 inch thick

* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions; cook over moderately low heat 30 minutes, stirring frequently. 2.In large saucepan combine onions, beef broth, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 hour. 3.Toast bread. Place toast in one large or in individual bowls. Add soup; sprinkle toast with cheese. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

* Fruit & Vegetable Recipes II by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, public domain government resource — original source of recipe

Vegetarian West African Soup

Serves: 8


* 2 cups onions, chopped

* 2 teaspoons olive oil

* 1/3 cup peanut butter

* 6 cups sweet potatoes (not yams), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

* 1 tablespoon ground cumin

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

* 2 (15 1/2 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, undrained

* 2 (14 1.2 ounce) or 1 (32 ounce) cans low-sodium vegetable broth

* 1 (28 ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes, undrained


1.Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan and sauté onions until they start to brown.

2.Stir in the rest of the ingredients then raise heat to bring to a boil.

3.Reduce heat to low then cover and let simmer for 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are softened.

* Vegetarian West African Soup from the Public Health Cookbook, Seattle & King County Department of Public Health — original source of recipe, government resource in the public domain