Monday, February 6, 2012

The Perfect Balance Between Comfort and Adventure

After a long day walking around in cold temperatures and gusty winds, my favorite dish to come home to is a bowl of steaming soup. With the first spoonful, my taste buds warm up and I get a heartwarming feeling. Even though the past couple of weeks have been unusually warm, Groundhog Day predicted a longer winter and I felt I would share my favorite soup recipe in anticipation of an impending frostbitten day. Growing up, my mom would always make Ajiaco, a Colombian soup prominent in Bogota, the city she was raised in. Ajiaco, a Central American version of classic American chicken noodle soup, is the perfect new comfort food for an adventurous sole. Anyone looking for a little more flavor, a different spice, or just something new should try this dish. I like to think of the soup, which incorporates potatoes rather than noodles and is served with heavy cream, as a heartier version of the beloved chicken noodle. Perfect for a wintry day, it is easy to make for large amounts of people and guaranteed to make everyone want to hibernate at your place, so be careful whom you invite!

Colombian Ajiaco

1.5 pounds chicken breast, with bone and skin
3 quarts water
1.5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 pounds new red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1.5 pounds papas criollas, found at specialty stores
4 ears of corn on the cob
1 handful of guasacas

1. Place the chicken breasts with the chicken broth in a large stockpot and sprinkle in the guasacas. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Remove chicken.
2. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for a couple hours.
3. Boil the corn on the cobb and add to the pot. Slice into smaller pieces if desirable.
3. When the cooked chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones, cut the meat into pieces, and return to pot.
5. Serve in deep bowls, making sure each serving contains chicken and potatoes. Garnish with heavy cream and capers, to taste.
6. Traditionally, the soup is also served with sliced avocado in olive oil and pepper on the side.

Picture from Fine Cooking.

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