How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nuestra Ajiaco

Some readers of this blog will be aware of my strong interest in coffee and coffee shops, which I share with one of my favorite comic-strip heroes, Adam of As I've written on my own blog, I always check this comic for coffee references, and am often rewarded.
Today's entry on Nueva Receta began with this strip, published October 8, 2011, when a coffee pun led our hero to inquire about a Colombian potato soup. I had not heard of ajiaco, but was quickly able -- through the wonders of the Internet -- to find this recipe from Andrea Meyers

The recipe calls for several kinds of potato, including criollos, which, again, I had not heard of. Meyers provides a couple of alternatives, but I was very fortunate that a student whose family is from Colombia was able to find criollos for me in a market in Boston. He gave me a 1kg bag of the frozen, one-inch potatoes just before the end of the year. Yesterday, I finally put them to use.

The recipe as written calls for twelve pounds of potatoes, and since it would be feeding only two of us, I scaled down to a one-third recipe, though I did use two rather large chicken breasts in the first step, when technically I should have used about 1-1/2. I boiled the chicken, removed it from the water, and then added the three kinds of potatoes. Unfortunately, I did not realize the difficulty of finding guascas, an herb in the daisy family that goes by many names.
Even without this signature ingredient, and even though I boiled the potatoes for only three hours instead of four, this was a delicious soup. We used most of the toppings called for -- including genuine Mexican crema, very aromatic cilantro, and capers. We opted to put chunks of avocado in our bowls, rather than serving separately with rice, as the rice really seemed to be superfluous with all those potatoes. One other compromise: we could not find corn on the cob, so we tossed frozen, organic corn from last summer into the soup itself, rather than resting it on top.

This was a fantastic soup, and even before it was finished, I had ordered some guascas from Amigo Foods, to use with the remaining pound of criollos in our freezer.

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