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
Sopa de Papa con Aji Amarillo. The soup gets its vibrant color from the yellow aji paste, smoked paprika and annatto.
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.