Recipe: Vegetable Ajiaco
One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Kristen Jovanelly, garden educator and manager at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.
Ajiaco is a flavorful potato and corn soup that originates from Colombia, where it is traditionally made with chicken and a variety of potatoes. The starch from the potatoes add a naturally light creaminess reminiscent of whipped mashed potatoes — decadent but not over the top. It is the perfect one-pot meal for the autumn harvest, making delicious use of the end-of-season sweet corn, peppers, potatoes, carrots and fresh herbs. We made this soup on a chilly fall morning with a group of middle school students from Catskill. They devoured the entire pot.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 bell peppers, diced
8 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
4 bay leaves
8 potatoes, mixed variety such as red, Yukon and russet, diced (3-4 lbs)
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 ears of fresh corn cut into 2-3 pieces, or kernels if preferred
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Vegan sour cream (about 3/4 cup)
2-3 avocados, peeled, halved and sliced (squeeze lime on them to prevent browning)
1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, peppers and carrots, sauté for 2-3 minutes.
2. Turn up the heat to high and add vegetable broth, ⅔ of the potatoes, bay leaves, 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 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are starting to break down.
3. Using a fork, mash some potato pieces against the side of the pot. This helps thicken the soup and create a stew-like consistency.
4. Add remainder of potatoes, corn, green onion, parsley, and cilantro. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and corn is cooked. Mash a few more potatoes, if preferred.
5. Check for seasoning and add more if needed. Remove bay leaves. While soup is finishing up, start preparing your selected garnishes.
6. Remove from heat and add lime juice. Serve hot with sour cream and avocado slices, if desired.