Visitors to Bogota will find there’s nothing better to combat the chill of the sharp Andean air of Colombia’s capital city than with a big steaming bowl of “Ajiaco” soup, a speciality of the Cundinamarca department.
Tucked away in the narrow streets of Bogota‘s quaint colonial La Candelaria area are a number of restaurants that serve the hearty Ajiaco dish. The restaurants are kitted out cosily in dark brown wood with low ceilings, little elbow room and better table service than you’d get from your mom at Thanksgiving.
Colombian mamas labor tirelessly over massive earthenware pots containing three types of potatoes simmered for hours to a thick, creamy consistency around succulent, soft cuts of chicken that slide effortlessly off the bone, which make up the base of the soup.
Chunks of corn on the cob are added to the stew, along with the dish’s secret ingredient, a herb known in Colombia as “guasca,” which lends the Ajiaco its distinctive flavor.
Steaming bowls of Ajiaco are served topped with swirls of sour cream and a sprinkling of capers, along with a side of white rice and half an avocado, which diners may add as per their taste. Some restaurants will also serve bananas to slice into the soup, creating a surprisingly delicious creamy mix of salty-sweet. “Aji,” a spicy Colombian salsa may also be added.
Portions definitely tend to be on the generous side, so bring a big appetite, or a friend!