Bogotá’s Chicken and Potato Soup
2 chicken breasts
garlic and onion
12 small yellow potatoes, halved
2 ears of corn, cut in halves
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch cilantro
8 tbsp. guascas
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp. capers
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
Marinate the chicken breasts in garlic, onion, and salt to taste the night before. Cover the breasts with water in a heavy casserole and cook until tender. Remove chicken skin and slice breasts into strips. Cook yellow potatoes in chicken stock until they start to disintegrate. Add more chicken stock to taste, plus scallions, cilantro, potatoes, guascas, and corn. When cooked, remove cilantro and scallions. Pour the chicken stock over the chicken in large soup bowls. Add 3 tbsp. of cream,a tsp. of capers, and sliced avocado to each bowl. Serves four.
Liliana Obregón, a doctoral candidate in the Human Rights and International Law Program at Harvard Law School, contributed this recipe, which she found on the Internet,<http://home.xnet.com/~cadena/index_colombia.html>. One of the founders of the Colombian Colloquium, an ongoing forum on Colombia supported by DRCLAS and the MIT Colombian Students Association, Obregón confesses that the recipe is merely a guide. The “secret” is in a package, a soup mix manufactured by La Sopera in Colombia, and containing guascas, the traditional herb used to make ajiaco. The packaged mix forms a base for the stew.
As more and more Latin American women moving into the professional world look for shortcuts, and as immigrants yearn for tastes of their homeland, there’s an increased market for these “convenience” foods. In Guatemala, one can find packages for hilachas and jocon and in Mexico, for mole. These kitchen helpers move easily across borders and make home cooking possible for those stressed not only by time, but by the inaccessibility of ingredients.
A special thanks for sharing the secret of the ajiaco package (and sometimes the packages themselves) on more than one festive occasion!
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