Guascas, Ajiaco and Colombia on Spice and Recipe

The new flavors of Nebraska — from Colombia to the Heartland of America.

Galinsoga parviflora is the scientific name of a plant in the daisy family that produces a unique herb – known as guascas in Colombia, South America, gallant soldier in England, Europe or my husband is sleeping in Malawi, Africa.

The plant is native to South America, growing in high humidity as well as high altitudes areas, hence known as the Andean herb.

Adriana Matallana Guerra’s life took a turn after she met an American man, Nathan Popp, at a wedding in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia and Adriana’s home town. A brief two-minute exchange sparked a relationship which today is crowned by a marriage, a daughter and a new country for Adriana. 11 years ago the family relocated to Omaha, Nebraska where Adriana is finally getting used to the snow.

And speaking of snow, there is nothing better than a bowl of warm Ajiaco soup in a cold winter Nebraska night.

Adriana prepares Ajiaco soup, a staple dish of Bogotá, her hometown, as she represents Colombia, her home country, in this episode of Spice and Recipe: The Origins of Flavor. Spice & Recipe: The Origins of Flavor is a biweekly show that you can watch locally in Omaha, Nebraska on KPAO-TV, Cox 22/1022, and worldwide on the NAM YouTube channel or this website.



  • 1 pound chicken breast, shredded
  • 8 small yellow potatoes (papa criolla), washed
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 arracacha (white carrot) peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 ears of fresh yellow corn (not sweet corn), cut in half or shelled on the cob
  • 2 wedges of green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons or to taste of dried guascas
  • salt as desired
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 1 cup of table cream
  • capers as desired
  • 6 cups of water

Preparation: In a large pot filled with water bring chicken, carrot, celery, onion, garlic to a boil. Add salt to taste. When chicken is cooked, remove and set aside to cool. Blend the remaining ingredients to help thicken the soup a bit.

Then add corn followed by potatoes with an interval of 10 minutes each type of potato: russet potatoes, red potatoes and finally the “criolla” potato (yellow potato). Let cook for 45 minutes or until it reaches the desired thickness. Finally add the guascas.

Shred the chicken that has already been cooling. Slice the avocados and place them on a flat plate, along with cooked rice.

Use a bowl to serve the soup. Top the soup with chicken, a tablespoon of heavy cream, and capers (about 1 teaspoon or to taste). Add rice and avocado if preferred and ENJOY!

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April 9, 2023

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