Jan 21, 2007

POTATO SOUP AJIACO (Bogotas Potato Soup)

This article is another favourite article in the Good Food Recipe Section and has been reportedly receiving a record number of visits. 

Hola, everyone! 

If you are already proficient at making Potato Soup, you may feel that this recipe is totally unnecessary.
However, if you would like to learn something new, and to entertain yourself at the same time, this recipe is tailor-made for you.
Of course, we spent some time researching this information before presenting it. Since we do not cut and paste, or steal recipes from here and there, we went right to the source. Who else but Mr. Goudas himself! He is an expert at cooking and told us the following: 

While he was in Colombia at a trade convention, he was taken to dinner in the city of Bogota to try the famous Bogota Ajiaco Soup. Needless to say, this soup is a favourite of Colombians on a cool night. We Canadians cannot understand what they mean when they say on a cool night, when the average temperature there is over 30 degrees year round, and we mean Celcius not Fahrenheit! However, in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, where the elevation is quite high, the temperature is quite chilly some nights of the year. And just imagine, only 100 kilometres from Bogota one could experience a heat wave. That is why Colombians in Bogota, enjoy this dish more than anything else in this world. 

Being who he is, whenever he encounters a dish that impresses him, he proceeds to the kitchen and speaks directly to the chef. In this particular instance, when he tried to complement the chef and find out how the soup is made, the chef proceeded to explain in Spanish. Mr. Goudas does not speak Spanish so the conversation was one-sided! Consequently, he made a reservation to learn about this recipe at another time. The right time was just a few weeks ago when he visited a Colombian friends house and to his surprise he was treated him to this particular soup. He did not want to miss this opportunity to learn this recipe in detail, therefore, he gave us the following ingredients: 

2-4 chicken breasts 
3-4 cloves of garlic 
1-2 onions 
1 can of Chicken Broth (Mr. Goudas Chicken Broth with NO MSG) 
2 yellow and 2 white potatoes 
1 Can of Mr. Goudas Whole Kernel Corn 
1 bunch scallions (green onion available in Caribbean or Latin Stores) 
1 bunch cilantro (coriander) 
4 tablespoons guascas 
1 cup heavy cream 
1/2 cup capers 
2 avocados
Salt and Pepper to taste 

There is no word in English for guascas. It is very difficult to explain the taste but it tastes similar to oregano and may be purchased in Latin and South American stores. Oregano is not a substitute for guascas, only the taste is similar. We suggest that you do not try to hide it in your luggage from South America because you may be detained at Customs until your leaves are identified. Should you encounter difficulty finding this guascas, then without it, you cannot call the soup Ajiago. 

The night before, marinate the chicken breasts with garlic, onion and salt. The next day, place the breasts in a casserole, add water, cover and cook until the chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken to a platter once it is cooked. Remove the skin and cut the chicken breasts into strips. Cut the yellow potatoes into small pieces, place in the water left over from the chicken and boil until they are partially cooked. Add 1 can of chicken broth. Cut the scallion into small pieces. Dice the white potatoes. Add the scallions, cilantro, diced potatoes, guascas, salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until the yellow potatoes are melted and have become smooth and creamy; and the white potatoes are fully cooked. For effective presentation, you may remove the bunch of cilantro. 

To serve this soup, for some reason or another, it tastes better when served in a clay bowl. (Mr. Goudas recalls that as a young boy while working in the clay factory, the yogurt always tasted better in a clay bowl). In four separate bowls place the chicken strips, corn, capers and cream, and allow each person to self-serve as much as they care to.
With respect to the avocados, cut them into halves, remove the seeds, slice from the inside without cutting the skin and allow each person to use a small spoon to take portions out. Needless to say, if you are a potato lover, this would become your most favourite potato dish. 

While in Colombia, Mr. Goudas became excited about the food, the culture and the people and upon his return he wrote a book titled: Experiencing Colombia as seen through the eyes of Spyros Peter Goudas. This tribute to Colombia was highly regarded and acknowledged to be one of the best books written about Colombia. We will not quote the whole book here in this recipe section but we will refer to page 43 of the publication, which states the following: 

Advice to men! Please avoid taking your wife, girlfriend, companion to the emerald and gold boutiques: 

Your pockets will be severely and irreparably damaged. Native Colombian craft boutiques are so wonderful that they are hazardous to your wealth. The crafts are so beautiful, creative, and original, they attract women like bees to flowers. And believe me, I am speaking from a very personal point of view. 

There are seven women in my office and I had to purchase a souvenir for each one, especially my private secretary who is turning sixty-nine years young and refuses to retire! I purchased seven bracelets and necklaces at a very reasonable price from one of the street vendors who told me that they were real precious stones, including diamonds and emeralds. He was even willing to give me a hand written, and personally signed by him, certificate of 

authenticity in Spanish (which I did not understand anyway)! Since I am in the food business, I have no knowledge about diamonds and emeralds and I had no reason to doubt whatsoever that a legitimate Colombian street vendor would lie to me. Upon my return to the office, I presented the precious presents to the ladies in the office. Each one immediately hugged me and I was graced with seven kisses. 

We hope you had a wonderful time reading this recipe. Colombia es passion, and they are passionate about their food! And we believe that once you taste this Ajiaco Soup you will become as passionate as they are about it. 

Mr. Goudas extends. his sincerest thank you to Senora Maria Vargas for the time she took to provide him with this wonderful recipe We, in turn, extend our thanks to Mr. Goudas for revealing this recipe to us and for providing the attached picture which he took himself.

You may read the book, Experiencing Colombia, as seen through the eyes of Spyros Peter Goudas, and enjoy the experience!


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