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Vegan Ajiaco is a satisfying, one-pot meal that is made with 3 types of potatoes and served with sliced avocado, capers, and tangy cream. Your taste buds will dance!
I’m a soupaholic and I love making a variety of soups all year round. They are inexpensive, super satisfying, great for make-ahead meals and freezable. Plus, you can feed a whole herd of people easily. Some of my go-to recipes are my Potato Leek Soup, this French Onion Soup, and of course, Vegan Ajiaco!
What is Ajiaco?
It’s a mouth-watering, hearty soup that is common to Colombia, Cuba, and Peru, and is prepared slightly different in each culture. The recipe I’m sharing today is a Colombian version (Ajiaco Bogotano). This soup is well-known throughout the region, and especially in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
Ajiaco is traditionally made with three types of Andean-grown potatoes, corn on the cob, chicken and a unique-flavored herb called Guascas. This herb is the star of the show, and it’s necessary to give this soup its one-of-a-kind flavor. (If you want to make the soup without the Guascas, you can sub it with thyme and bay leaf. It won’t have the same flavor as Ajiaco, but it will still be delicious and flavorful)
The potatoes range from waxy to starchy – Papas Criollas, Sabanera, and Pastusa. Each potato has a purpose, the starchy potatoes are cooked until they completely break down and create a stew-like consistency, while the waxy stay intact and provide another layer of texture. It’s the epitome of comfort food!
It’s really hard to find these potatoes in the U.S, but I’ve found Papas Criollas in a nearby Latin market in the freezer section. They are small, golden-yellow potatoes with a buttery, nutty, creamy taste and texture. If you can find them, I highly recommend trying them out at least once. They are a little expensive so most of the time I just use Fingerling or Yukon Gold to substitute them.
My favorite part of Ajiaco is all the fixin’s that accompany it. It’s served with Avocado, Capers, Table Cream (I use Vegan Sour Cream) and sometimes served with Aji (Colombian Salsa). Each topping adds another layer of flavor to this already flavorsome meal. I highly recommend all of them for the full Ajiaco experience. I also like to add a squeeze of lime and fresh-cut cilantro.
What is Guascas?
In many areas of the world, Guascas is considered a weed and is referred to as the Gallant Soldier or a Potato Weed. However, in South and Central America, it’s considered a culinary herb, and leafy vegetable with medicinal benefits. Fresh, aromatic Guascas is commonly used in Ajiaco, but it’s not readily available here, so dried Guascas is the next best thing.
It’s really hard to describe the distinctive flavor of Guascas and it’s like no other herb I’ve tried before. It really stands on its own. If I had to describe it, I would say it has an artichoke-like flavor, with an earthy undertone and a lime-like aroma. It creates a rich flavor and adds a lot of depth to the soup. You can find dried Guascas in most Latin markets or you can find it on Amazon Here. It’s really worth searching for and will give your Ajiaco its authentic flavor.
How to make Vegan Ajiaco
I tried to keep the recipe as traditional as possible, but I had to change a few things to make it vegan-friendly. The stock is traditionally made with chicken, and it’s simmered in water, onions, and garlic to create a broth. To replace this step, I sautéed the onions and garlic together and used vegetable broth. The cook time is much shorter without the addition of chicken, so that’s a big bonus.
After sautéing the Onions and Garlic, add the Vegetable Broth, Red Potatoes, Russet Potatoes, Guascas, Salt, and Pepper. Bring it to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are breaking down. This thickens the soup and creates a stew-like consistency.
Now add the Yukon Gold Potatoes (or Papas Criollas), Corn Cobs, Green onion, and Cilantro. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and corn is cooked. Check for seasoning and add more if needed. While the soup is finishing up, start preparing your selected garnishes. Remove from heat and add lime juice if preferred. Serve hot with Vegan Sour Cream, Avocado Slices, and Capers.
Are you ready to give this a try?
I hope you guys enjoyed learning a little about Ajiaco and maybe you’ll give it a try. I’m looking forward to visiting Bogotá one day, and I would love to enjoy a vegan version of this incredibly delicious soup!
Looking for more comforting soup recipes? You may like these:
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU
If you make this Vegan Ajiaco Soup, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Vegan Ajiaco Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion , diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 8 cups vegetable broth , low sodium
- 1/4 cup dried guascas
- 2 small russet potatoes (about 1 pound ), peeled and sliced
- 3 medium red potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and sliced
- 3 medium yukon gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces *See note
- 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
- Fresh ground pepper , to taste
- 2 ears fresh corn cut each into 2-3 pieces (sub frozen cobs or 2 cups frozen kernels) *See note
- 3 green onions , sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro , chopped finely (*optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (*optional)
Recommended Garnishes: (served on the side) *See note
- Vegan sour cream (about 3/4 cup)
- Capers (about 1/2 cup)
- 2-3 avocados peeled, halved and sliced (squeeze lime on them to prevent browning)
- In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat & sprinkle with salt. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Raise heat to high, and add vegetable broth, red potatoes, russet potatoes, guascas, salt, and pepper. Once the soup starts to boil, put heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer, and cover pot partially with a lid. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are breaking down. You can also mash the potatoes with a fork against the side of the pot to help it along. This thickens the soup and creates a stew-like consistency.
- Now add the yukon potatoes (or papas criollas), corn cobs, green onion and cilantro. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and corn is cooked. Check for seasoning and add more if needed. While soup is finishing up, start preparing your selected garnishes.
- Remove from heat and add lime juice if preferred. Serve hot with sour cream, avocado slices, and capers.