Chicken soup with a twist… the flavors of Peru! Aji amarillo provides a bit of fruity heat, and cilantro shines in my healthy and warming Peruvian Chicken and Cilantro Soup!
You cannot teach creativity—how to become a good writer. But you can help a young writer discover within himself what kind of writer he would like to be.
~~ Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian writer and 2010 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Peruvian Chicken and Cilantro Soup was a result of my desire to include more Peruvian flavors in my cooking. My sister-in-love Josselin is a native of Peru, and she introduced me to her native cuisine more than a decade ago. I fell in love with aji amarillo – the spicy bright yellow chile – that provides bright, fruity heat to so many Peruvian dishes. Josselin makes the most amazing Aji de Gallina (chicken with aji amarillo chile and cream sauce), and ceviche. Living in land-locked New Mexico, I don’t even think about ceviche, but I have been pretty successful with a few other Peruvian dishes including Aji de Gallina. I am not one to be tied to a cookbook, though, so I’ve started experimenting with my own Peruvian-inspired dishes.
Finding aji amarillo chiles in any form is no easy task in Las Cruces. I have found the paste at Marshall’s Department Store and stocked up. When in El Paso, I can find a few things at the Latino market. I try to keep their frozen aji amarillo chiles on hand. They keep for months in the freezer, and it is super simple to make the paste from the frozen chiles. If you can find the paste, I highly recommend keeping it in your Well-Stocked Pantry 😉 If you can’t find the paste, but come across the frozen aji amarillo chiles, simply submerge them in water, boil about 5 minutes, remove the skin, stem, and seeds from each chile, and purée with a bit of water from the pot. I did 6 chiles, and ended up with about 5 tablespoons of luscious aji amarillo paste!
I often wonder, as does Mario Vargas Llosa, about our ability to “teach creativity,” and I join with him in seeking to foster discovery, and to encourage the kinds of experiences that lead men and women – young and old – to enjoy life with food. I am thrilled each and every time I hear that my passion for food has led others to explore, create, and find joy in the process… beyond mere sustenance. Peruvian Chicken and Cilantro Soup is really just chicken soup with a twist. I hope you will give it a try!
Chicken soup with a twist... the flavors of Peru! Aji amarillo provides a bit of fruity heat, and cilantro shines in this healthy and warming soup.
15 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
- 1 onion. cut in chunks
- a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. garlic
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves (1 tbsp. fresh)
- 2 tbsp. aji amarillo paste (provides heat - more or less to taste)
- 6 cups chicken broth/stock
- 1 dark beer - bock (optional but delicious!)
- 1 large sweet potato, diced (about 3 cups)
- 3 small yukon or red potatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, shredded*
- 2 cups fresh or frozen peas
- lime wedges
- poached or hard-boiled egg
Combine cilantro and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is pretty smooth.
In a heavy dutch oven or soup pot, drizzle olive oil. Turn heat to medium-high. Add cilantro onion paste. Stir mixture until sizzling and fragrant. Add garlic, cumin, oregano leaves, and aji amarillo paste. Stir another 1-2 minutes.
Add broth or stock and beer (if using) to the pot. Stir to combine.
Add both sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Cook about 10 minutes until almost tender. I cut my potatoes small so they cook quickly; be sure to check as crunchy potatoes aren't tasty!
Add red bell pepper and chicken. Cook 5 minutes. Add peas. Cover the pot and simmer another 5 minutes.
While soup cooks, prepare any garnishes. We like lime wedges, cilantro leaves, cubed avocado, and sometimes a poached egg.
* I usually poach chicken when adding to a stew or saucy dish. Cover the chicken generously with water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat all the way, and cover. Let the chicken steep until cooked all the way through (do not boil it). With two forks, pull the breast apart. If it's cooked all the way through, removed from the water and cool. Shred the chicken with two forks. You can also use chicken from a purchased rotisserie chicken as a time-saver. Add to the soup as per instructions.
I hope to teach my readers to experiment, and not cling to a recipe. Soups are a perfect way to do this. Use your favorite vegetables, and make substitutions according to seasonal availability, and your budget. Add or substitute Peruvian giant corn, posole, carrots, butternut squash, etc. If your children hate peas, leave them out 🙂
The macros listed are for the soup only. The garnishes - especially avocado and egg - will add to the numbers.
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