Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: The Best Chicken Soup

September 28, 2017 by General Administrator

Colombian ajiaco is a miracle of soups.  It’s luxurious, convivial and fresh.  The basic idea is this: a bowl of rich chicken broth with lots of potatoes and chunks of sweetcorn, personalised with sliced avocado, capers, a tomato-coriander salsa and cream, followed by another bowl, or two.  Do try it.

A Sort of Ajiaco
Proper aijaco requires some ingredients we lack, so this is a Leamington approximation.  I think it’s delicious but apologies to all Colombians.

the stock
1 whole chicken, or chicken pieces, of about 1.6 kilos in weight, but you needn’t be precise.
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 litres of water
1 tablespoon salt
6 whole peppercorns

the additional soup ingredients
4 potatoes, cut into chunks — the Canalside potatoes we’re currently getting are ideal as they are the mealy variety that disintigrate when you boil them. That’s what you want here.
3 potatoes, cut into thinnish slices—ideally, use waxy  potatoes of the sort that will not disintegrate when you boil them.  Real ajiaco uses different varieties of potato but even if you use only one the result will be delicious.
200g runner beans, sliced in to 1-inch chunks
2-3 ears sweetcorn, shucked (i.e. husk and silk removed) and cut into 3 chunks

the delightful extras
2 avocados, cut into slices
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup double cream (I suppose you could use single cream)

tomato-coriander salsa
4 tomatoes, chopped into small cubes
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped fine
1 green or red chilli
salt to taste

Put the soup ingredients into a large pot for which you have a lid.  Cover and bring to the boil. Once it begins boiling turn the heat down so that it simmers gently. Cook for 75 minutes.Meanwhile prepare the other components.  Put the avocadoes and capers in two attractive little dishes and place the cream in a jug. Then prepare the salsa: put the tomato, onion and coriander into a little serving bowl and mix.  Cut off the end of the chilli and the slice it in half.  If you don’t want the salsa to be too hot remove the seeds, and then mince the chilli into tiny bits.  Mix it into the salsa and add salt to taste.  Let it mellow while you finish the soup.

After the soup has been cooking for about an hour and a quarter the chicken should be tender and the broth rich and flavourful.  If for any reason the chicken still seems a bit rubbery or under-cooked, let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Fish out the chicken and let it cool a little.  Once you’re able to handle it, remove the meat from the bones, and, if you like, shred it a bit into bite-sized pieces.  Return the meat to the pot and bring the soup back to the boil.

Add the chunks of potato and cook for 20 minutes. The potato should disintegrate.  If chunks still remain give the whole thing a little mash with a potato masher to encourage them to break apart.

Add the sliced potatoes and runner beans nd cook for another 10-15 minutes, until they are tender.

Add the chunks of corn and cook for 5 final minutes.  Check to see if it needs more salt or pepper.

To serve: bring the soup to the table and give each diner a bowl brimming with chicken, sliced potatoes and runner beans, topped by a piece of corn on the cob.  Pass around the little bowls of avocado, capers, and the salsa, and the jug of cream.  Each diner can adorn their bowl with whatever they fancy.

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