Peruvian-Style Aguadito Soup with Coriander

Sometimes we are invited to Peru where Ryusho Sensei and his family live. It’s also the home of Zen River Lima who organise an annual event for Tenkei Roshi. They often invite us to do some sightseeing before flying home so this time we found ourselves staying in a lodge overlooking the Amazon! Over breakfast I asked our tour guide what do you usually eat in the morning? “Rice and fish soup” he replied. I began to wonder: why were we eating boxed cereal, strawberry-flavoured yogurt, and toast and scrambled eggs in the middle of the jungle?

The next day, our connecting flight from Iquitos to Lima was cancelled and left us no time to pick up our luggage from the house before catching our flight back to Amsterdam (it came just in time, thanks to Marisa who brought it to the airport!). While waiting for her in an airport restaurant we pondered the menu. Lo and behold! I spotted a soup with rice and potatoes seasoned with lime and coriander. It must be similar to what the tour guide had mentioned? I hoped so. When the waiter complimented us on our choice I was sure it had to be. And even if it wasn’t, it was simply delicious.

When we returned I thought it would be lovely to make a vegetarian version. So here is my rendition and I hope you will enjoy.

By the way, firm tofu, when boiled, becomes even firmer with a nice texture that works well in this recipe.


75 g (⅓ cup) white jasmine rice
1 medium onion
2 chilies, preferably Ancho/Poblana
3 cloves garlic
500 g (4 medium) sweet or yukon potatoes (I like sweet potatoes best!)
2 medium carrots
1 teaspoon cumin, to taste
1 cob of fresh corn or;
    150 g (¾ cup) sweet corn kernels
250 g firm tofu

1½ liters (6 cups) vegetable stock
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

25 g (½ cup) fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 small dried chili (optional)

Coconut or olive oil for frying

  • Cover the rice with water and soak while preparing the vegetables.
  • Peel and medium-dice the onions.
  • Cut the chilies into thin rings and deseed.
  • Peel and mince the garlic.
  • Peel and medium-dice the potatoes and carrots.
  • If using fresh corn, remove the leaves and silky fibers and cut the cob into 3 cm (1½ inch) rings.
  • Cut the coriander leaves and stems into short lengths.
  • Medium-dice the tofu. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil on medium flame. Add the tofu and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, press gently to remove any excess water. Set aside.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a stew pot on medium flame. Add the onions and stir-fry until golden on the edges. Put in the garlic and chilies, and stir-fry for a minute until the garlic is golden and fragrant.
  • Add the potatoes and carrots, and stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the cumin. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low flame until the potatoes are almost tender, 6–8 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse the rice and stir into the soup. Cover and simmer on a low flame. When the rice has been cooking for about 6 minutes, add the corn cobs and tofu and cook for a further 4–5 minutes. Remove from the flame when both the rice and corn are tender. Salt to taste.
  • Finally, in a blender combine 60 ml (¼ cup) water with a little salt, the chopped coriander, a small dried chili, and the lime juice. Whizz until smooth and bright green.
  • First serve the soup into bowls then drizzle each serving with about 2 tablespoons of coriander-lime marinade.

Tip: If you don’t like coriander, try using parsley instead.

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