Sunday, July 14, 2013

Galinsoga, Guasacas, and an Ajiaco Recipe

Our herb garden is full of a common weed called Galinsoga (Galinsoga sp.).  As it turns out Galinsoga itself is an herb--commonly called guasaca in South America.  Galinsoga can be eaten as one would cooked greens.  It is also the principal flavoring in ajiaco, a Colombian soup.

We first heard about ajiaco from our friend Arena.  Neither Thag nor I have had ajiaco before, so we do not know what the dish tastes like.  I spent a lot of time online looking for ajiaco recipes.  All Colombian ajiaco recipes use potatoes, corn and chicken.  In all the recipes adapted for use by non-Colombian restaurants and by famous American cooks, I found no galinsoga included.  However, in every recipe for ajiaco written by someone from Colombia, galinsoga was used.  Many cooks said it could not be called ajiaco without galinsoga.  Galinsoga/guasaca is almost impossible to buy in the US, but it grows wild throughout the Americas and is probably in your yard right now.

The recipe below is my version of ajiaco, based on several ajiaco recipes I found online written by Colombians.  It is more a stew than a soup, and it is fantastic.  The galinsoga has its own unique flavor I cannot describe, but if you chew a bit of raw galinsoga you will have an inkling of its flavor.  When I make the soup again, I plan to increase the galinsoga to 3/4 cup.

2 chicken breasts
garlic and onion, chopped fine
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and separated, 2 pounds cut into quarters, 2 pounds sliced thin
2 ears of corn, but into 4 pieces each
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup guasacas/galinsoga leaves, rinsed and chopped fine
1/2 and 1/2, cream, or sour cream

The day before, press onion, garlic, and salt onto chicken breasts.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cook chicken in stock pot with enough water to cover by 2 inches. When chicken is cooked, remove from soup.  Separate meat from bones.  Put bones back into pot. 

Add quartered potatoes to stock.  Cook until mushy.  Remove bones.  Puree soup in blender or with immersion blender.

While soup is cooking, remove skin from chicken and slice chicken into bite sized pieces.

Add sliced potatoes, corn, scallions (whole), galinsoga leaves.  Salt to taste.  Cook until potatoes are tender.

Remove scallions.  Add chicken.  Serve with cream, capers, and avocado in bowls.

Yum!  I'm not sure how you are supposed to eat the corn.  Every picture I found of ajiaco had the corn on the cob floating in the bowl.  When we ate the leftovers, we cut the corn from the cob before heating it up.  Anyone out there know why they might serve it on the cob or how one is supposed to eat the corn?


  1. I do have some of this in my garden. Very nice to know they are edible, thank you! Can't wait to weed them out of the garden and into some ajiaco of my own :)

  2. Hi,

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  3. An update: I have made this, and it was a hit! Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. A wonderful talk last night and a pleasure to meet you. I'm so happy to read your post about Galinsoga and its uses because I suspect that I have seen this plant before and now I will be on the alert for making this stew. Here's to eating more edible flowers and plants right in front of our faces.