Countries are always characterized by their most traditional foods, and, while there are many outstanding dishes in Colombia, some of the most traditional and coincidentally most delicious are soups! Many people find it surprising that a Latin American country’s traditional cuisine includes soups, as most think menus in Latin America center around beans, rice, and avocados. To give you an idea of the variety and deliciousness of Colombian traditional soups, I am going to tell you about my three most favorite soups here.
Originating from Bogotá D.C., ajiaco is also a popular and traditional soup served in the Colombian departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca. To make ajiaco, you need chicken, corn, potatoes (yellow papas criollas and white papas sabaneras), and guasca leaves. As you let the ingredients simmer, the small yellow potatoes fall apart and melt and give the soup a thick consistency that sometimes makes you think this is a cream and not a water-based soup. A bowl of ajiaco is normally eaten with a portion of white rice, avocado, capers, and a spoonful of crema de leche (table cream). It was one of the first traditional Colombian dishes I tried, and it has since become not only one of my favorites, but also one of my go-to Colombian comfort foods.
Mote de Queso
Another one of my most favorite Colombian soups is called mote de queso and is a traditional soup on the Colombian Caribbean coast. Mote de queso is made with ñame criollo (white yam), queso costeño (coastal artisan cheese), onions, lime juice, and garlic. It is a very unique soup, and I have never found or tasted anything like it anywhere else. The fact that the cheese does not melt, but maintains a chew consistency only adds character to this incredibly scrumptious dish. Be warned, it can be hard to find a really good mote de queso, but it’s definitely a dish you will want to seek out and try if you are traveling on the Colombian Caribbean coast.
A bit different from the above mentioned soups, mazamorra has very few ingredients and is sometimes consumed as a drink rather than a food. It is native to Medellín and the Coffee Zone of Colombia, and it is made by grinding corn kernels (yellow or white) with a mortar and pestle, letting the kernels soak in water, and then cooking them until they have a soft consistency. Once cooked, mazmorra is served in either a cup or bowl, depending on if it is going to be consumed as a drink or as a soup, and it is eaten with milk and panela (unrefined cane sugar)—you add these in portions to your liking. While I have eaten mazamorra as a meal itself, in Medellín and the Coffee Zone of Colombia, it is most often eaten as an appetizer, as a side dish, or consumed as a drink to accompany traditional dishes such as bandeja paisa (a dish consisting of rice, beans, beef, a fried egg, sweet plantain, avocado, sausage, and pork rind) and mondongo (a soup made from cow stomach).
Hopefully, by describing these three soups, I’ve helped you see that there is a great variety of soups in Colombia and that Latin American countries can serve up great dishes with no need to rely on beans and rice!
Until next time,
Paige M. Poole
About the author:
“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie. You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com
- Regional Foods in Colombia (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- The Colombian breakfast (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Cooking class tour in Bogota (www.uncovercolombia.com)