Ajiaco (A Hearty Soup)


10 quarts water

1 lb beef jerky (tasajo) cut in 2”, or 1 lb brisket (cut in 2” cubes). 

2 lbs flank steak, cubed in 2”

1 ½ lb lean pork meat (cut in 2” cubes)

1 ½ lb country-style pork ribs or spare ribs (cut in 2” cubes)

A 3lb hen, cut up

2 lb malanga

4 ears corn (cut in fourths)

4 green plantains (peel, soak in lime juice to avoid brown coloring, cut in chunks)

2 semi- ripe plantains (still yellow) (peeled and cut in chunks)

2 ripe plantains (almost black) (peeled and cut in chunks)

4 limes for soaking green plantains

2 lbs pumpkin (peeled, cut in chunks)

2 lbs yucca (peeled, cut in chunks)

1 lb white taro (ñame), peeled, cut in chunks)

2 lbs Cuban boniato (sweet potato or yams) peeled, cut in chunks

1 lb guagui (grayish taro) (peeled and cut in chunks)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Sofrito (base sauce):

¼ cup Olive oil

2 large onions (chopped)

2 green peppers (chopped)

10 garlic cloves (chopped or minced)

1 ½ cup chunk style tomato sauce

2 tbs parsley

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp ground cumin

Little touch of dried oregano

Salt to taste (if using tasajo you may not need to use salt)

Directions for Sofrito:

In a large skillet add olive oil, heat on medium-low. Add and sauté onion, garlic, pepper, bay leaves, cumin and oregano, reduce heat to low, add tomato sauce and parsley. (If need to add salt, taste sofrito, as you might not need it). Let it simmer for about 5-7 mins on low heat. Set aside.

Directions for Ajiaco:

If using tasajo (beef jerky), cut it in about 2” pieces, soak it in cold water and cover with lid. Let it soak overnight or for about 8+ hours to de-salt it. Drain once during this time and change the water. After 8 hours day, drain it again and rinse under cold running water.

Place tasajo in a very large and deep stockpot with the 10 quarts of water. Add the hen (cut up). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let it continue boiling for 1 hour (skim off froth). Add the rest of the meat and bring to a boil. Cook and boil for 1 to 1½ hours on medium. Skim fat and froth again.

In de meantime, peel and cut vegetables. Once meats are tender, add vegetables except plantains and pumpkin. Let it cook for about ½ hour. Add the sofrito (base sauce), and cook for another ½ hour. Add green and medium ripe plantains and cook for 15 more minutes. Add the ripe plantain and pumpkin and cook for 15-20 more minutes, until the plantains and pumpkin are tender. Test vegetables to ensure that they are well cooked. Taste to adjust seasoning and salt. If desired, and to make the broth thicker, take out a few vegetables and smash them in little broth, then add them back to the pot.

Serve in a large soup tureen. You may cut and place lime slices on a separate plate, so it can be squeezed over the ajiaco if desired.

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