I am so guilty of purchasing that specialty, hard to find food product and storing it in my pantry for months before I remember to use it. In this case, it was a jar of aji amarillo paste. The aji peppers are a very popular ingredients used in many Peruvian recipes. They come in bright colors of yellow, orange and red most of the time. They have a more fruity flavor, such as an habanero or scotch bonnet pepper, but not as hot. Their heat level could compare to a serrano, but not as sharp in flavor. About every 10 days or so, I will clean out my refrigerator and pantry of produce that needs to be used up. And my favorite dish to prepare would be a soup, stew or chowder with whatever I find. I do love a good potato soup during these cooler nights. And with that little kick of the aji amarillo paste, even better!
Yields 6 to 8 servings
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt to taste
White pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste depending on heat level
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or more black pepper
1/2 teaspoon annatto powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon oregano, crushed
1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 1/2 to 3 cups milk or half and half, at room temperature
1 pound Russet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
1 pound sweet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
Tips~ If you wanted to eliminate the dairy from this recipe, you could. Instead of butter, you could use olive oil with the flour as a thickener and simply replace the milk with more chicken broth.
Green onions, sliced
Shredded cheese, jack or sharp cheddar
Crumbled bacon bits
Sour cream or Mexican crema
Tips~When fresh aji peppers are not available, I prepare my version of aji paste by roasting a large yellow bell pepper with 1 habanero. Peel the skin (bell pepper) and remove seeds from peppers. Blend with a little oil, vinegar and salt until smooth.
1. In a large pot, melt the butter at medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper. Season lightly with salt and pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for another few minutes, stirring often.
2. Whisk in the chicken broth gradually. Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir in the tomatoes, aji paste, vinegar and all of the dried spices listed. When it comes to a simmer again, taste for salt. Stir in the milk and let simmer for a 10 minutes.
3. Add in the sliced potatoes and sweet potatoes, making sure they are immersed in the soup while they cook. Continue cooking at a low boil or simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and cooked. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, cheese, crema and bacon. Yields 6 to 8 servings.