Going on week 3 of self isolation I needed to clear the fridge of leftovers and use those ingredients before they go bad. This is not a time to be wasting food!
Lets make a flavourful low carb Cuban inspired Ajiaco “Clean out the fridge ” soup, to create something delicious out of those leftover and forgotten ingredients
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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost or effort to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through the link and make a purchase.
This is definitely not your average soup, man is it ever hearty! If there has ever been a soup that eats like a meal, its this one.
Now I call this Cuban Ajiaco because I first learned of Aijaco in the beautiful country of Cuba.
But Aijaco makes an appearance in many Latin countries, and it makes sense as the “recipe” for Aijaco is very flexible in nature. Its more about using what you have on hand (or in this case leftover) to make something beautiful and delicious.
I first discovered this flavourful soup on one of our trips to our favourite vacation destination Cuba. I mean just look at that beach! We kept having these amazing soups all week and every time I asked our waiter what it was they would just say “Aijaco”, or as I was picturing it in my mind at the time “Ayacko”.
But every time the soup was slightly different, sometimes it had 3 meats sometimes it had 1. Sometimes it had corn, and tomatoes, and one time it had black beans. But every time I asked what the soup was I was told “Ajiaco!”.
I finally asked the waiter what Aijaco was and he told me “It’s everything AND the kitchen sink”
No wonder it is so good! It’s a beautiful melting pot of different flavour and textures, just whatever needs to be used up, and it makes this wonderful flavourful soup that is satisfying a meal in itself.
Growing up my Mom had her own version of this that we creatively called “Clean out the fridge soup”. Yes that is a mouthful but so was her soup!
My sister and I began calling it “stew-p” because she would end up putting is so many things that all of a sudden the broth would disappear.
There were some really strange things that went into that soup. It all started after a holiday turkey dinner in order to use up the turkey carcass and some leftovers. But you know what? No matter what went into that pot, the soup was always damn delicious.
I’ve always loved the concept of using all of your food to its fullest potential. That is actually how the idea to make this started. There was a pork shoulder just sitting in the fridge from earlier in the week.
I had roasted it up in my favourite coffee dry rub, but we had so many leftovers in the fridge I just knew the two of us wouldn’t get through it in time. It would have been a shame to waste something so yummy.
So taking a page out of the Mothers cookbook, I set out to make some Clean out the fridge low carb Ajiaco soup.
In researching this dish I came across the most beautiful quote from Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz that I just feel must be shared,
“our most typical and most complex stew, made of various sorts of legumes, which here we call viandas, and of pieces of assorted meats. All of this is cooked with boiling water until it gives off a very thick and succulent broth.” Likewise, he argues, Cuban mestizo culture is composed of multifarious cultural ingredients—mainly European and African, but also Asian, North American, and Amerindian—that blend to different degrees. These cultural ingredients are found in a myriad of gradations between the initial state in which they entered Cuba and the state of total dissolution into that thick broth. To quote the author again, Cuban culture is “a heterogeneous conglomerate of diverse races and cultures, of many meats and crops, that stir up, mix with each other, and disintegrate into one single social bubbling.”
I think you will see that this recipe really is a myriad of different cultural ingredients that come together the make something wonderful, resourceful, and mouthwatering.
For this particular batch I decided to pull flavours from Mexico and Spain, (meaning that’s what ingredients I had open in the fridge) while keeping it close to the version I loved so much in Cuba.
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I strongly encourage you to be adventurous here! Take a look in your fridge or freezer, anything there that could be used in a soup? How about anything you think could maybe be used? Throw them both in.
A word of warning: Sometime before my time, my Grandmother added some leftover apple peels from pie making to her clean out the fridge soup. She has not lived it down to this day. So maybe steer clear of apple peels. but everything else is fair game.
Use my recipe as a base for something creative, go wild and make it your own, or follow it exactly. Either way, I hope you enjoy this hearty “Cuban” Ajiaco.
Calories: 220 kcal
Net Carbs: 6g
Macros are approximate values based on the USDA food database. Macros may vary as the recipe/ingredient will vary. Always check your labels and macros to be sure.
- Soup Pot
- Cutting board
- Stirring Spoon
- Large bowl
- 1 whole pork/chicken carcass any chicken/pork/beef/lamb/etc bones will work
- 3 tbsp (45g) Apple cider vinegar
- water to cover Just fill pot with water to cover bones
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 small (70g) onion chopped
- 2 whole (30g) chipotle peppers canned, chopped
- 2 cups (260g) cabbage chopped bite sized, I used savoy
- 4-5 tbsp (5g) coriander chopped
- 1 med (120g) sweet bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves (6g) garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
- 10-15 (120g) grape tomato halved
- 3-4 links (12 oz) Chorizo sausage
- 3 tbsp (30g) lime juice
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- pretty much anything else you think will fit
- If making soup base, add whole carcass or bones, vinegar, and salt, to soup pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and turn down just enough to keep simmering.
- Allow to simmer as long as possible adding water to cover as necessary. Simmer at least an hour but the longer the better. You can taste the stock if all the meat is cooked to see if its ready.
- Place a colander in a large bowl and drain bones and carcass out of the soup base. Allow strained contents to cool and pick out any meat and add to soup base. Check soup base carefully for any bones or bone pieces.
- Allow to simmer gently checking taste occasionally. Add water as needed to maintain broth.
- Once you are happy with the flavours and everything is cooked through you can serve
- Remember this is a clean out the fridge soup, you can follow this exactly to get the great tasting version I made. Or you can make it your own with what you have on hand!
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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost or effort to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through the link and make a purchase.