Colombia's national dish calls for three types of potatoes, one of which, a yellow potato, is native to the country. It breaks down during the cooking process, helping to thicken the soup. Some Americanized versions of the recipe suggest that Yukon Gold potatoes can be substituted, but embassy chef Gladys Rodriguez insists on the native papa criolla. Guascas, a South American herb, imparts a grassy flavor to the soup. When Rodriguez serves this at the embassy, she provides corn cob holders along with the soup spoons.
Servings: 22 cups
- 1/4 of an onion, sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 6 scallions, white parts only
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 stalk celery
- 4 quarts water
- 1 (56 ounces) chicken, skinned and quartered
- 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- 4 ears corn
- 2 pounds red bliss potatoes, peeled and cut into medium slices
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium slices
- 2 pounds papa criolla (Columbian yellow potatoes, available in jars or frozen at Latin American specialty markets), peeled and quartered
- 1 packet dried guascas (available at Latin American markets)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, for garnish
- 3 avocados, coarsely chopped, for garnish
- 1/2 cup capers (not drained), for garnish
- Aji Salsa, for garnish
On a large piece of cheesecloth, bundle together the onion, cilantro, scallions, garlic and celery. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and fasten with kitchen twine to form a version of a bouquet garni. Place it in a large stockpot with the water, the chicken pieces and the bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, with bubbles just breaking the surface, for about 30 minutes, skimming any foam that forms on the top, if necessary. Remove the chicken. When cool, shred the breast meat and set aside. (Reserve the thigh and drumstick meat for another use.)
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the corn and red bliss potatoes to the pot. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the russet potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Add the papa criolla and half of the packet of guascas and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until thickened. Remove the corn and, when cooled enough to handle, cut cobs into 2-inch rounds. Return corn to the pot with the remaining half-packet of guascas.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Serve with shredded chicken and other garnishes in separate serving bowls.
Adapted from a recipe from Colombian Embassy chef Gladys Rodriguez.
Tested by Leigh Lambert.
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