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 (aguadito de pollo)! It's super easy to make, healthy, and full of flavor, all in about 30 minutes!
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.
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks (About Peruvian Cooking)
Peruvian Chicken 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.
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!
🌶️About Ají Amarillo Peppers
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 ají 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!
- chicken broth
- dark lager (optional)
- chicken breast or thigh meat
- lima beans (peas, tarwi beans)
- red onion
- sweet potato
- bell pepper
- ají amarillo paste
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
- Purée cilantro and onion - Combine cilantro and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is pretty smooth.
- Sauté the aromatics, vegetables, chicken - Add the chicken to the pot with olive oil over medium high heat, and sear. Add in the hard vegetables followed by the aromatics (cumin, ají amarillo paste, garlic) and bell pepper.
- Finish the soup - Stir everything together, add the cilantro purée, and finally, the chicken and beer (if using). Add the lima beans or peas. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender (10-15 minutes).
- Prep the garnishes - While the soup simmers prep the garnishes as desired. We like hard-cooked egg, avocado, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges.
- Serve! - Ladle into bowls, top with garnishes, and enjoy!
💭 Tips Variations and FAQ
- If you meal prep (as I often do), pre-cooked chicken is a great option. Try rotisserie chicken too. Add cooked chicken just a few minutes before serving to allow it to heat through!
- In bring Peruvian-inspired recipes to cooks outside the country, I default to ingredients used in Peru. We can't always get them. I would love to use tarwi beans, but I've never seen them in the US. I love both fresh and frozen English peas, and small and large limas are great too. You will find all of them in Peru. While the photos show small frozen lima beans, I have often used peas!
- Peru is the land of root vegetables, but I have not seen many outside of Peru. I love purple fingerling potatoes and sweet potatoes when cooking Peruvian-inspired food. They fit right in with the flavor profile. (See a few varieties at MIL restaurant in the Peruvian Andes). The photo below was taken at MIL in Moray, Peru... We celebrated our 39th anniversary at this fine restaurant, and the education was part of the experience!
- What can I do with leftovers? The soup keeps very well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can freeze it for up to 3 months.
- 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 🙂
- Aguadito de Pollo is the Spanish/Peruvian name for this bright green and very healthy soup! You will find as many versions of it as there are cooks that make it.
If you're looking for a chicken soup recipe with "a twist," this is a great one to try! You can definitely get this on the table in 30 minutes or less...
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
- 1 onion. cut in chunks
- a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tsp.)
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken breast, cubed (see post or notes)
- 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)
- 4 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
- 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 cubed chicken. Sauté until it begins to brown.
- Add in the hard vegetables - potatoes, sweet potatoes. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add the aromatics (cumin, ají amarillo paste, garlic) and bell pepper followed by the cilantro onion paste. Stir mixture until sizzling and fragrant. Stir another 1-2 minutes.
- Add broth or stock and beer (if using) to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Cook 5 minutes before adding peas or lima beans. Cover the pot and simmer another 5 minutes. Check to make sure potatoes and sweet potatoes are tender.
- While soup cooks, prepare any garnishes. We like lime wedges, cilantro leaves, cubed avocado, and sometimes a poached egg.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish as desired.
* I often 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. On photo day, I cubed chicken breast and sautéed the chicken before adding hard vegetables.
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.
Nutrition information is an approximation only from MyFitnessPal.com!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 197Total Fat: 3gCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 16g