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16 Traditional Colombian Soups You Must Try

Updated on 02/16/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!,

In Colombia, soups are much more than just a hot dish to satisfy hunger. They are an expression of the rich cultural and gastronomic diversity that characterizes this South American nation. So, I invite you to discover the Colombian soups you must try on your next trip to the country.

Colombian Gastronomy and Soups: A World to Explore

Colombian gastronomy is rich and diverse, with a notable feature being the variety of soups it offers. From the Caribbean coast to the Andean highlands, Colombia has an impressive array of soups, each with unique flavors and a diverse range of ingredients.

The popularity of soups can be attributed to various reasons, including:

  • Ease of preparation
  • Typically requiring few or very common ingredients
  • High versatility

In Colombia, you can have soup for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as an accompaniment to other meals. Additionally, if you’re hungover or unwell, soup is the most suitable dish, and you have plenty to choose from, as each region of Colombia has its typical soups.

Best Colombian Soups

Here are some standout soups from different regions of Colombia that you should try at least once in your life:

Ajiaco santafereño

Natural Region: Andean
Main City: Bogotá
Vegan or Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Chicken thighs or breast
  • Sabanera potatoes
  • Pastusa potatoes
  • Corn
  • Creole potato (yellow potato)
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Guasca (aromatic herb)
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • A bit of oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ajiaco Santafereño is a delicious and creamy soup made with potatoes, chicken, and endemic herbs. It is primarily consumed as lunch in Bogotá. Its origin dates back to pre-Columbian times when the Muisca indigenous people in the region already prepared a similar soup using potatoes, guascas, and other ingredients. With the arrival of Spanish colonizers, new ingredients like chicken were incorporated.

It is usually served with cream, capers, rice, and avocado.

Caldo de costilla (Rib broth)

Natural Region: Common in all regions, especially the Andean
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Beef ribs
  • Potatoes
  • Green onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Water
  • Salt to taste

Caldo de Costilla arrived in Colombia in the early 20th century and is said to have indigenous, African, and European influences in its ingredients and preparation. A “caldo” is thinner and lighter than a soup. At the time of its arrival, it was consumed by workers needing energy and strength to build railways.

Today, this broth is consumed for breakfast and commonly when a person is hungover or unwell. Many people call it the “hangover cure,” as each spoonful offers a mild and comforting flavor. It is usually accompanied by chocolate with arepa or with bread and eggs.

Cazuela de mariscos (Seafood stew)

Natural Region: Caribbean
Main Cities: Barranquilla, Cartagena, and Santa Marta
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Mixed seafood (octopus, squid, oysters, shrimp, among other seafood)
  • White fish
  • Fish broth
  • Green onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Garlic
  • Annatto
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Cream
  • Tomato paste
  • Coconut milk
  • White wine
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The Colombian seafood stew is an emblematic dish from the country’s coast. It reflects Afro-Colombian influence and the culinary richness of the coastal region.

The seafood stew features aromatic ingredients such as bell pepper, wine, and seafood. Its preparation is straightforward: onions, garlic, and peppers are sautéed in oil until tender. Then, seafood like shrimp, squid, and fish, along with tomato, grated coconut, fish broth, and seasonings like cilantro and annatto, are added. The mixture is simmered until the seafood is cooked, and the broth thickens.

Its flavor is enveloping, and it has an appealing orange color. It is usually served with fried plantain.

Cuchuco con espinazo

Natural Region: Andean
City: Altiplano Cundiboyacense (Bogotá savanna, Ubaté, Tunja, and Sogamoso)
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Hydrated wheat cuchuco
  • Pork spine
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow potato)
  • Beans
  • Green peas
  • Carrot
  • Lima beans
  • Stalks
  • Green onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cuchuco con Espinazo is an example of indigenous and Spanish influence in the cuisine of the Cundiboyacense highlands. This wheat and pork spine-based soup is widely consumed for lunch due to its comforting flavor, nutritional content, and interesting texture. Additionally, it provides warmth on the colder days of the Andean mountains.

Changua

Natural Region: Andean
City: Bogotá
Vegetarian Recipe: Yes
Ingredients:

  • Bread, calado (dry bread), or almojábana (Colombian dough)
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Changua is a traditional Colombian soup, although it is mainly consumed in Bogotá for breakfast. Its origins are said to be in the Chibcha communities of the area. Currently, it is a dish that some adore and others dislike due to its unique mix of ingredients, such as milk with onion and cilantro. Additionally, it has the watery texture of bread. Overall, it is a creamy and savory dish that many accompany with chocolate drinks.

Changua caballuna

Natural Region: Andean
Cities: Chía, Pacho, Zipaquirá, and Muzo
Vegetarian Recipe: Yes
Ingredients:

  • Bread or toast (dry bread)
  • Egg
  • Patacones (fried and smashed plantain)
  • Green onion
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Changua Caballuna is a variation of the traditional changua because it does not contain milk and includes patacones. It is mainly consumed in small municipalities. Its flavor is delicious, although it is a bit watery. It is ideal for breakfast or when it’s cold.

Guandú 

Natural Region: Caribbean
Main Cities: Barranquilla and Chinú
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Salted beef (brisket)
  • Yam (tuber)
  • Pigeon pea (legume)
  • Cassava
  • Ripe plantain
  • Shallot onion
  • Green onion
  • Sweet pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sancocho or Guandú soup is a popular Caribbean soup made with yam, cassava, plantain, and beef. It is accompanied by white rice, coconut rice, some cassava dough, and panela guarapo (fermented drink). Considered a carnival dish, it is commonly eaten for lunch or breakfast.

Mazamorra chiquita

Natural Region: Andean
City: Cundiboyacense Highlands (Bogotá savanna, Ubaté, Tunja, and Sogamoso)
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Corn flour
  • Beef ribs or bone
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow potato)
  • Beans
  • Lima beans
  • Peas
  • Carrot
  • Green onion
  • Garlic
  • Stalks
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mazamorra Chiquita is believed to have been created by the indigenous people or peasants of Boyacá. In short, it is a delicious and thick soup consisting of potatoes, various vegetables, and beef ribs, served for lunch. It provides a lot of energy and warmth and is usually consumed on cold days or in cold places. Typically, it is cooked over wood and accompanied by a banana or chicha (fermented corn drink). It is one of the most well-known soups in the country.

An interesting note about its name: “mazamorra chiquita” does not refer to its size but is used to differentiate it from a sweet soup called “mazamorra” made with white corn, milk, and panela, which is also known in Antioquia. Adding “chiquita” specifies that it is a savory soup.

Mondongo 

Natural Regions: Andean and Caribbean
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Beef tripe
  • Pork
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow)
  • Cassava
  • Carrot
  • Peas
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mondongo is a soup that consists mainly of beef tripe, pork, potatoes, and different vegetables. Its origin dates back to the Spanish colonization, where Colombian indigenous ingredients merged with European cooking techniques and African influence.

It is especially popular in the Andean region of the country and is consumed during celebrations, special events, or for lunch. Its unique flavor and texture are usually accompanied by rice and avocado.

Mote de queso (Cheese Hominy)

Natural Region: Caribbean
Cities: Montes de María and Sabanas del Bolívar Grande
Vegetarian Recipe: Yes
Ingredients:

  • Yam (tuber)
  • Coastal cheese (hard salted cheese)
  • Coastal buttermilk (similar to sour cream)
  • Green onion
  • Shallot onion
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mote de Queso has its origins mainly in the 20th century during the Thousand Days’ War. It is believed that due to the hunger caused by this conflict, General Rafael Uribe Uribe’s army started to eat yam. It evolved due to Arab heritage and Spanish influence in Colombian homes, becoming the dish known today. It is a soup made with yam, coastal cheese, and rich in flavor from ingredients like onion and garlic.

It has a somewhat strong taste for some palates but is delicious and thick. It is eaten for lunch or breakfast.

Mute santandereano

Natural Region: Andean
Cities: Bucaramanga and San Gil
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Beef leg
  • Beef ribs
  • Pork
  • Beef tripe
  • Cooked peeled corn
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow)
  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Carrot
  • Cilantro
  • Green onion
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mute, as we know it now, has its origins in a Jewish-Spanish and Portuguese stew called adafina. However, its ingredients adapted to what was available locally. In fact, “mute” means “corn” in Quechua. This soup, with various meats, potatoes, and vegetables such as squash and carrots, has a very mild flavor and is ideal when you are very hungry or cold. It is usually eaten for lunch and is accompanied by rice, avocado, and fried plantains.

Sancocho de gallina (Hen Sancocho)

Natural Regions: Andean, Orinoco, Caribbean, and Pacific
Cities: Common in major cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, Villavicencio, Cali, Bucaramanga, among others
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Hen
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow)
  • Green plantain
  • Cassava
  • Corn
  • Green onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sancocho de Gallina, a soup made with meats, tubers, vegetables, and seasonings typical of several Hispanic American countries, is believed to come from Spain. However, Colombia adapted it using local ingredients. It is effortless to prepare; you just need to cook the hen with garlic, onion, and salt. When it is tender, add the other ingredients until it thickens.

It is delicious and hearty, perhaps explaining its great popularity, as it is one of the most famous soups in the country. Literally, you find it everywhere. While it is usually consumed for lunch, many people prepare it for “paseos de olla,” a tradition of family outings on the outskirts of cities, usually near a riverbank, where sancocho is prepared, and people share some time. Its flavor when cooked over wood is even richer. It is accompanied by rice and avocado.

Sancocho de pescado (Fish Sancocho)

Natural Regions: Caribbean, Amazon, and Insular
Cities: Santa Marta, Cartagena, Leticia, and San Andrés
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Fish
  • Potato
  • Creole potato (yellow)
  • Cassava
  • Corn
  • Green plantain
  • Green onion
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Cumin
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sancocho de Pescado is a variant of Sancocho de Gallina. Its origins are believed to be the same, with coastal Colombians deciding to add fish, as it is a more common protein locally. It is eaten for lunch or breakfast and is accompanied by rice, avocado, and fried plantain.

Sancocho trifásico (Three-phase Sancocho)

Natural Regions: Andean, Pacific, and Orinoco
Cities: Bogotá, Cali, Villavicencio, among others
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken or hen
  • Potatoes
  • Creole potatoes (yellow)
  • Cassava
  • Corn
  • Green plantain
  • Sofrito (tomato, onion, and garlic sauté)
  • Green onion
  • Oil
  • Cilantro
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sancocho Trifásico is another variant of sancocho de gallina, but it includes three types of meat: beef, pork, and chicken or hen, hence its name “trifásico” (three-phase). It is believed to have the same origins as the classic sancocho. This variant is eaten for lunch or breakfast and is accompanied by rice and avocado. Each spoonful is rich in flavor and consistency, but it is not thick. It is a common dish for celebrations or special events, such as Christmas or New Year.

Sopa de arroz (Rice soup)

Natural Region: Andean
Cities: Bogotá, Chía, Sopó, and Pacho
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Beef ribs
  • Beef tripe
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Carrot
  • Lima beans
  • Potato
  • Creole potatoes (yellow)
  • Green onion
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Rice soup is very typical in the Andean region. In addition to its delicious taste and rich texture, it is effortless to prepare. Many just add the ingredients to the pressure cooker, and in just a few minutes, it’s ready. It is a very comforting dish that is popularly accompanied by a banana, avocado, and corn pira or popcorn. Although it might seem strange, its companions pair well with the soup’s flavor, leaving you feeling satisfied.

Sopa de pasta (Pasta soup)

Natural Regions: Andean, Amazonian, Caribbean, Pacific, Insular, and Orinoco
Cities: All major cities
Vegetarian Recipe: No
Ingredients:

  • Rib meat or chicken thighs
  • Potato
  • Creole potatoes (yellow)
  • Pasta (angel hair or shells are commonly used)
  • Green onion
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In reality, pasta soup is common in various countries worldwide, such as China, Japan, and Italy. Some say it came to America through the English, who discovered it on their trips to Italy. In Colombia, this soup is eaten for lunch, dinner, when it’s cold, or when someone is unwell, as it is very light. It is accompanied by corn pira, patacones (fried plantain), and avocado.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia.I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia.For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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