This story first started back in October of 2010.  For all you “gringos” I will translate as we go along:  Our home is referred to as Casa Agave which translates to “Home of Agave,” and the agave is the plant that TEQUILA is  distilled and aged from. Near the front door is a tile plaque which yours truly designed and hand-painted, and my great-nephew Marshall King installed it on the wall using very old clavos (nails fromMexico.)

     A year ago, Monday the 24th, the Warden — who, in real life, is really Alba Xóchihua, and she is the one who looks after my well-being with all kinds of rules and regulations — announced that she was throwing a chicken in the pot, and we were going to have chicken soup for dinner. I called it “new” because we hadn’t had any since the previous winter. So now remember this is the 2010 version because at that time she did not have the secret ingredients which she was able to come across in October 2011.

     Grab your aprons.

     LUPE’S CHICKEN SOUP (Alba’s mom)     Get down in the cupboard and dig out a great, huge pot because you will want to put a lot of this soup in the freezer. Throw the whole chicken into the pot, and let it simmer for a little while — I hope you have added water by now. You can use a couple of Tblsp. of that Knorr’s Caldo de Pollo (Chicken flavor Bouillon)  or  the liquid chicken bouillon in a box. You have to use a huge onion, several big potatoes, maybe one-half a stalk of celery, and if you are really craving celery throw in the whole stalk, but at least slice it up.  Also, be sure several carrots are in there.  Add some of your favorite herbs, and here’s one for you from the Latin food section:  Goya’s box of little packets of Sazón (seasoning.)  Toss in a couple of those, but be sure to remove the packet it comes in.   Almost forgot — 2-3 Tblsp. of Olive Oil, and it doesn’t matter if it’s regular or virgin – not to me, anyway.  You could stop right here, and you would have a wonderful, tasty, healthy meal. If you don’t stop here, just start tossing in anything you feel like, such as tomatoes, squash (butter nut is good,) yam, asparagus, mushrooms.

      Oh Nuts, stop right here — return to above where the pot is simmering, and THROW IN SOME GARLIC!  Either fresh, or powdered, but get that in there! It’s critical.  The joy of this soup — besides being so healthy — is that you don’t have to use all those veggies when making it the first day.  I would hope you have leftovers in your fridge, so get rid of them in the soup the next day or whenever you drag it out again.  Macaroni & cheese, m-m-m,  mash potatoes and gravy,  spaghetti, or maybe some frijoles (beans,) — be creative.  Don’t throw all those leftovers in at once, just one at a time so that makes the soup a little different each outing — and this makes your eaters think it’s different and keeps them coming back for more.

     You have to keep them coming back for more since you have all those containers filed away in your freezer, and they do take up a lot of space, and there’s no room for the ice cream anymore.  This may be a good thing. You can have your family or whomever is eating at your table on a diet and the beautiful part of it is, they wouldn’t even realize it. Of course, they would eventually catch on that they are not getting all those goody, fattening things they used to get out of the freezer. However, they will thank you when they can start buying size 8 instead of size 12, or the fellas can get into a 32 size waist instead of the old 36, or even 42. You will be saying “Hail Mary’s” for me the rest of your life because I revealed all these secrets from the Aztec Nation,SpainandMexico, for Lupe’s Chicken Soup, and then the nation ofColombiafor the recipe all of you have been waiting for — with bated breath.   (Don’t put too much garlic — in case your breath is unabated.)

     When the soup is ready to be served, there are items that you will want to top it off with.  Slice avocado kinda thick , chop up some fresh cilantro, slice up some green onions, and have some washed and drained capers ready to sprinkle over the soup, along with halved limes (and if possible, it is very nice to conveniently have a Mexican lime tree in your back yard — it comes in handy for the Tequila on the rocks also) or you can use squeezes of lemon.

     Friday, December 16, 2011: You will not believe this that the Warden just returned from shopping, and when she saw I am writing about THE SOUP, she went immediately and pulled out a giant pot, and started the COLOMBIAN version because she is leaving to be with family at Christmas in Aztec and Tiguan Indian territory (Arizona,”) and she wants to be sure I have some food in the house in case the 2 Vice Wardens she has selected to watch over me are not doing their job taking care of me in the manner she has accustomed me to.

     We will now get to — and you all have thought “when in the h… is she EVER going to get there? —  the Colombian version of LUPE’S CHICKEN SOUP, which was influenced by her origins of Aztec, Spanish, and Mexican and see what those Colombians could do to enhance this really, really soul food.

     (Sound the trumpets) 

AJIACO BOGOTANO (COLUMBIAN CHICKEN AND POTATO SOUP) ALBA’S VERSION. As for this Colombian soup, you use cut-up chicken, roughly chop a couple of cloves of garlic, roughly sliced medium onion, some chicken stock (like LUPE’s) and then the potatoes come onto the scene. Take a medium or large russet potato, cut up in at least 1½ in. cubes, then you hike over to Trader Joe’s for a bag containing black, red, and yellow small potatoes;  cut them in half and toss them in with the simmering pot.  (While in Trader Joe’s, you may as well pick up a container of his Heavy Cream for later in recipe.) Corn on the cob can be used, but cut the cob in half. Then the secret ingredient goes in to swim around, and  this may be a problem to find.  It’s the * GUASCAS*.    *Instructions below.  Use about 1/3 cup.  The Guascas is the Colombian herb which gives a delightful flavor to this great dish.  As for the topping, use the sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, green onions, capers, limes, or lemons like in  Lupe’s above, and then on top of all that, you add a couple of dollops of the heavy cream. Then serve.




*Guascas can be hard to find.  If you have a friend in Miami, they may find some for you, because when you are living in Mainelike my ex-niece-law, Maxine, you will probably never find it  — so let’s try the internet. You can go to   then in the search box ask for  Kiska/El Rey Guascas, one bag is 3.00 which would make 2 or 3 soups.  You may find it in LA,  who knows?


     Well, there you have it. I hope you can figure it all out with my laid back recipe writing.

     I am thoroughly confused.


MELITAS FORSTER                                                   December 17, 2011

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