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Tag: gallina

Aguadito / Hangover Soup!

Aguadito (“thin little broth”) is a very traditional Peruvian soup. It’s an incredibly aromatic and flavorful hen soup with sofrito, lots of cilantro, and a kitchen-sink list of ingredients. You may wonder why I’m posting a hot soup recipe, just as summer is getting underway here on the East Coast. Allow me to give a bit of a background explanation.

Peruvians are simply infamous for their partying lifestyle. On holidays and special occasions, the festivities can last well into the night – and often extend into the following day! Their drinking abilities are the stuff of legend. Lima is known as a clubbing and partying mecca that can be overwhelming for pathetic cheap-date lightweights (such as myself).

All those borrachos inevitably find themselves in the same rocky boat: suffering a miserable hangover. Aguadito is a well-known “morning after” cure. It has a splash of “the hair of the dog” and fiery rocoto to restore the body– and the soul – to party-ready condition once more. Revelers also scarf some down in the wee hours, to fuel their all-night carousing; it often makes its welcome appearance at sunrise, just when spirits start to sag. Aguadito helps stricken Peruvians back to their feet – and back to the club – to live and party another day.

Much of Peru is hot much (in some places, all) of the time, which makes a steaming bowl of soup seem counterintuitive. But believe it or not, consuming hot liquid and spice is believed to cool off the body by increasing sweating. Maybe aguadito helps hangover-sufferers to sweat off the alcohol toxins while rehydrating the body and restoring nutrients. Sounds like a working theory to me.

Anyway… this weekend, I’m featuring an assortment of alcoholic beverages; so I thought I would be proactive. Make this soup ahead of time. If you do overindulge, you’ll have a delicious morning-after cure on hand! Aguadito is great for whatever ails you – whether it’s the flu, a hangover… or just hunger.



Aguadito / Peruvian hen soup
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
  • 5pounds hen,whole, skin removed
  • 1/4cup vegetable oil
  • 4 1/2quarts water
  • 1large yellow onionrough chop
  • 4cloves garlicpeeled, halved
  • 2medium carrots,rough chop
  • 2stalks celery,rough chop
  • 1/4cup fresh ginger,peeled, sliced (about 1 oz. piece)
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4tsp. white pepper
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1recipe stock and hen(as above)
  • 1Tbsp. olive oilextra virgin
  • 1/2large red onionsmall dice
  • 3cloves garlicminced
  • 1medium red bell peppersmall dice
  • 12oz. beer, lager(1 bottle)
  • 2medium yellow potatoescut in eighths
  • 1cup white rice,long grain
  • 1ear choclo or white corn,cut in
  • 1cup white hominy,drained (optional)
  • 1cup green peasfresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 1cup cilantrochopped
  • 1Tbsp. rocoto paste
  • 2tsp. Kosher salt(to taste)
  1. Gather / measure / prep ingredients.
  2. Thoroughly rinse hen with cold water; remove giblets. If blanching, do so now. Cool, then remove skin.
  3. Cut hen into pieces; remove the back portion and reserve for another use. Season chicken with the salt and pepper.
  4. Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken on both sides. Remove from pot.
  5. Sauté onions until they just begin to color (3-4 minutes). Add carrots, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook 1-2 minutes more.
  6. Lay hen on top of mirepoix vegetables. Fill pot with enough water to cover hen. Add the celery and bay leaves.
  7. Bring to a boil; then cover (but allow to vent slightly). Reduce to a low simmer.
  8. Cook until meat begins to fall off the bone (3 to 3 ½ hours). Skim scum and oil occasionally.
  9. When tender, remove hen from stock; cool. Remove the skin and shred the meat by hand.
  10. Strain stock into a separate pot. Return stock to a simmer.
  1. While stock is simmering, prepare soup mise en place.
  2. Heat olive oil in original pot; sauté red onions until translucent.
  3. Add red pepper, rocoto paste and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes more.
  4. Deglaze with beer. Scrape bottom with wooden spoon to release the fond (the flavorful film stuck to the bottom of the pot). Cook until the alcohol is evaporated.
  5. Add the stock to the pot; bring to a simmer.
  6. Add potatoes and rice; cook until potatoes are tender and rice is al dente (about 15 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  7. Add corn; cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the minced cilantro and reserved chicken pieces; cook another 2-3 minutes.
  9. Taste; adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Ladle soup into deep serving bowls; be sure to place a potato and a piece of choclo in each.
Recipe Notes

It may help to briefly blanch the hen in hot water to help remove the tough skin.

The hen makes a great deal of meat, even without the back. If you prefer more broth, only add half of the shredded hen; save the remainder for another purpose (like ají de gallina).


You can substitute pre-made chicken stock, and use already-cooked chicken (i.e. leftover roast, etc.).

You can also substitute a whole chicken for the hen; however, the stock cooking time will be shortened significantly (1 ½ to 2 hours).

This soup can also be made with turkey (aguadito de pavo). Replace the hen meat with 5 pounds of turkey (breast, leg and wing). Follow the recipe as is.


Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.

Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.

Ají de Gallina / Spicy Peruvian Hen Stew

Ají de gallina is the quintessential Peruvian dish:  it is a perfect fusion of Andean and European cuisines. It has some roots in pre-Columbian times: the Inca people cooked a breed of chicken called the “hualpa” (which was renamed after Atahaulpa, the last Inca ruler, who was executed by the Spanish) with hot pepper.  Ají amarillo was – and still is – the most commonly used pepper in Peruvian kitchens; and it is the key flavoring ingredient in this recipe.

However, it is also related to the Spanish precursor to manjar blanco, which was a cooked dish that included milk and almonds. The Spaniards added cheese and olives. French chefs who came to Peru in the 19th century may have changed the dish into more of a creamy fricassée, possibly adding the European use of a panada as thickening agent, and shredded chicken instead of the Quechua tradition of large chunks. Native chopped peanuts replaced the almonds as well. In short, each culture made its mark; and ultimately created an entirely new dish that is now uniquely Peruvian.

Ají de gallina is a treasured national dish. Every Peruvian home cook has this recipe in his / her repertoire, and adds a personal spin.  It was my husband’s childhood favorite, and he says that it is a common favorite of many Peruvian children. His mother made it for every birthday celebration. Unfortunately, I have corrupted him: he now requests my braised beef short ribs with my top-secret mango-tamarind barbecue sauce! But that’s another post.

This recipe is traditionally made with non-egg-laying hens. Hen is older and tougher than the regular frying or roasting chickens that are commonly sold here; but is much more flavorful. You’ll need to boil the heck out of it to make it tender… but I promise, the flavor is well worth the extra time. I’m not one to promote the big-box stores… but you can often find hen in the frozen food section of that megalomaniacal corporation that starts with a “W.” If you can get a fresh hen at your local butcher or grocery store, so much the better. Use a whole roasting chicken if you must – but don’t use chicken breast! Bone chicken is essential to create a flavorful stock and moist meat.

This dish is usually served as an entrée at home, with both rice and potatoes; and as an appetizer in restaurants, with potatoes only.

* * Please note – there are several steps which require advance preparation and waiting time. * * 

Please read recipe through before beginning!


Ají de Gallina / Spicy Peruvian Hen Stew
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3.5hours 3hours
  • 5pound hen,
  • 2 1/2-3quarts water
  • 1large carrot,peeled and halved
  • 1large yellow onionquartered
  • 1stalk celery,halved
  • 2cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1Tbsp. cumin, ground
  • 1tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2tsp. white pepper
Stew base:
  • 1/4cup olive oilextra virgin
  • 1large yellow onionsmall dice
  • 4cloves garlicminced
  • 10slices white bread,crusts removed
  • 12oz. evaporated milk(1 can)
  • 2 1/2cups hen stock(as needed - from above recipe)
  • 1/2cup Parmesan cheesefreshly grated
  • 1/4cup ají amarillo paste
  • 1/4tsp. Kosher salt(to taste)
  • 1/8tsp. white pepper(to taste)
  • 4medium yellow potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 olives,Peruvian or kalamata, pitted and halved
  1. Gather / measure / prep ingredients.
  1. Remove giblets from hen; thoroughly rinse, inside and out. Place hen in a large stockpot; fill with cold water until bird is covered.
  2. Add quartered onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, white pepper and salt; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover partially (allow to vent) and simmer for at least 2 ½ – 3 hours (until hen is so tender that it begins to fall off the bone, and the legs / wings can be easily pulled from the body). Periodically skim surface oil and scum off the surface of the stock. If your pot is small and hen is not completely covered with water, turn after 1 hour.
  4. * While stock is cooking, prep stew base and garnish ingredients (see below).
  5. Add the potatoes to the stock for the last 25 minutes. (Remove when fork-tender, if done before the stock.)
  6. Strain; make sure to retain the broth in a pot, and keep it hot on the stove.
  7. Remove hen, and allow to cool. Discard remainder of strained ingredients.
  8. When hen is cool, peel off the skin and discard. Remove the hen meat from the bone, and shred finely by hand.
  1. Gather / measure / prep mise en place.
  2. Cut the bread first; allow to sit out for 1-2 hours.
  3. Soak the dry bread in the milk until saturated. Place in a food processor, and purée until smooth.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat; sauté the onion until soft and translucent (4-5 minutes). Add garlic and ají amarillo paste; sauté 2-3 more minutes.
  5. Add bread mixture; stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until liquid evaporates and mix is dry.
  6. Add one ladle (½ cup) of stock at a time, stirring to prevent sticking. When liquid evaporates, add another ladle-full. Repeat, for a total of 4 ladles (or until a thick sauce consistency is reached).
  7. (Optional: at this point, you can purée the sauce, using a hand blender.)
  8. Add the cheese and the shredded hen meat. Add one more ladle of stock; mix well to combine. Remove from heat.
  9. Taste; add salt and pepper as desired. (It may not need any.) If sauce is too thick, add one more ladle of stock, and mix well.
  10. Serve gallina atop boiled plain potatoes; garnish with hard-boiled egg, black olives, and crushed peanuts or walnuts. You may also add arroz a la Peruana as a second side dish.
Recipe Notes

You can serve this as a main dish, or (in smaller portions) as an appetizer or first course.

Refrigerate or freeze the extra stock – it makes a delicious soup or stew base.

You can substitute 1 sleeve of Saltine crackers for some or all of the bread.

Evaporated milk is used in many Peruvian recipes. For a much thicker and richer sauce, substitute heavy cream for the evaporated milk.

Copyright © 2011 la vida comida.

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