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- Colombian-Style Ajiaco (Chicken Soup with Galinsoga, Potatoes, and Corn) - September 22, 2023
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The first time I met galinsoga (also called gallant soldier, soldier weed, or guascas), it was a tiny weed peering up from the gravel of my driveway — with a cheery green color, hairy leaves, and tiny white and yellow flowers. Now I see it all over the place — it’s considered an invasive weed, especially in agricultural fields. But like so many weeds, it deserves a place at the table.
I was delighted to learn about this plant in Samuel Thayer’s Incredible Wild Edibles, and was further inspired by the online foraging community (particularly Alan Bergo) to make a very special soup — a riff on a traditional Colombian dish called ajiaco, in which galinsoga is the subtle star. The mountains of Bogotá are the home of galinsoga and a vast array of potato varieties, and this form of ajiaco is commonly enjoyed as a Sunday meal in the region.
Ajiaco is a celebration of plant foods. Although field corn (hominy) and native Andean potatoes are the authentic add-ins, I used what I had on hand: Virginia-grown sweet corn and new red potatoes, plus some organic Yukon Golds. Sources say that criollo potatoes, a small yellow type, should be present to dissolve and create a creamy broth — but in their absence, I froze the blanched Yukon Golds, thawed them, and simmered them in the soup for an hour or so before coaxing them into a purée with my immersion blender. The result was a potato revelation.
To have fun with flavor depth, I charred the onions and corn cobs and added some homemade smoked poultry bone broth to this recipe, along with dried cilantro and powdered sweet onion leaves I made in the spring. I used large whole chicken wings in this, but you could use bone-in chicken breasts or leg quarters, wild turkey, or even rabbit.
The galinsoga, red potatoes, and garlic I used are from the organic vegetable farm where I’ve been working over the summer. Walking along rows of crops, it didn’t take long to gather a beautiful bunch of herbage, which I dehydrated to get the key ingredient for the soup. Ajiaco is perfect for dinner after a long workday. The galinsoga has a unique flavor similar to its aster relatives artichoke and sunflower. Serve it with traditional garnishes: sour cream, capers, and sliced avocado. I like cilantro lime rice as a side.
Serving Size: 8 servings
Time to make: 2 hours
Special Equipment: Dehydrator, mesh strainer, immersion blender, stock pot
Also works with: Wild turkey, rabbit
Looking for more recipes featuring wild greens? Why not try these delicious Dandelion and Zucchini fritters?
Try our Delicious Wild Fish and Game Spice Blends!