The creamy and hearty ajiaco, a Colombian national dish, is a favorite during the holiday season. It is made with guascas, a native herb with a distinct flavor. (Look for it where Latin American and Andean foods are sold.)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb. skinless, bone-in chicken breasts
3 tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
2 small carrots, cut into 5 or 6 pieces each
1/2 lb. small yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 lb. small red or purple potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 lb. white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 ears corn, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
4 to 5 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. dried guascas or 1 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
4 to 8 tbsp. heavy cream
4 tsp. capers
Avocado slices, for serving
1. Combine minced garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the black pepper and rub mixture over chicken breasts. Refrigerate and allow to marinate at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
2. In large, wide-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion, celery, and carrots and sauté several minutes, turning chicken breasts over, until lightly browned on both sides. Add 3 cups water and then yellow and red potatoes. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 45 minutes.
3. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Using back of fork or wooden spoon, lightly smash some potato pieces against inside of pot. Add 1/2 cup water, white potatoes, corn, cilantro, guascas (or marjorma), and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir well and cover.
4. Pull chicken meat off bones, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips, and add to soup. Cook until sliced white potatoes easily break apar, 25 to 30 minutes.
5. To serve, drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 1 teaspoon capers into each soup bowl. Ladle in the soup and top with avocado slices. Serve hot.