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Ecuadorian chicken rice soup {Aguado de gallina}

This is my recipe for a traditional Ecuadorian chicken rice soup, called aguado de gallina o pollo. It’s a thick soup made with chicken, rice, potatoes, onions, peppers, other vegetables, herbs and spices.

Ecuadorian soup with rice and chicken called aguado

En Español

The literal translation of aguado is watery or watered down, which is ironic because this is actually a very thick chicken soup, almost a stew, but still a soup. The first time Nicolas tried this soup he commented that he liked it and asked what was in it (besides de chicken obviously). When I mentioned that it had rice he was surprised, aguado de gallina soup, like many other Ecuadorian poultry dishes is slow cooked until the chicken is extremely tender. The rice practically dissolves into the soup thickening it. The rice also gives the aguado a very creamy and almost sticky consistency.

Ecuadorian chicken soup with rice

The very traditional way to cook this soup is very simple and only uses chicken, rice, potatoes, onions, and spices, my version is a little bit more modern as bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, peas and herbs are added to the soup. The traditional version also uses water instead of chicken broth.

It’s hard to explain the main reason I don’t stick to the traditional aguado chicken rice soup recipe, in Ecuador we have “pollos” and “gallinas”. Pollos are chickens that are younger and are usually, but not always, raised in a more commercial environment. Gallinas are more like hens which are raised for their eggs, more often on farms or just in your backyard. It is said that the meat from a pollo is more tender, which makes sense because it is younger, however it lacks true flavor. On the other hand, the meat from a gallina is much tougher but is full of flavor, so in order to get a really true flavorful chicken dish you have to use a gallina, the older the better they say, and to tenderize it you must cook it slowly.

Ecuadorian aguado de gallina or chicken rice soup

If you taste a traditional aguado de gallina in Ecuador made with a nice old hen it will be one of the most tasty dishes with a very strong chicken flavor. Well, I have tried chicken meat from Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, etc and none of them can match the Ecuadorian gallinas, which leads to the conclusion that most of them are pollos. So to get as much chicken flavor as possible, I make the soup with chicken broth and add additional ingredients to improve the flavor. So, technically I should really call this chicken rice soup an aguado de pollo, instead of a true aguado de gallina – but regardless it’s still one of the most delicious and comforting chicken soups.

Aguado de gallina chicken rice soup
Ecuadorian soup with rice and chicken called aguado

Ecuadorian chicken rice soup {Aguado de gallina}

Ecuadorian chicken rice soup or aguado de gallina is a thick soup made with chicken, rice, potatoes, onions, peppers, other vegetables, herbs and spices.
4.80 from 75 votes
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Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin American, South American
Keyword: Aguado de gallina, Chicken rice soup, Comfort food, Ecuadorian soup
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8


  • 3 lbs chicken assorted pieces
  • ¾ cup rice uncooked
  • 2 tbs sunflower oil or butter
  • 1 cup chopped red onion about ½ onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper about 1 pepper
  • 2 roma tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbs fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground achiote
  • 8 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 potatoes peeled and diced, about 3 ½ cups
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbs finely chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Serve with:


  • Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
  • Heat the oil or butter in a large sauce pan to make a refrito with the onions, garlic, pepper, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, cumin, achiote and salt, cook for 10 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Add the chicken broth or water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 30 minutes on low medium heat.
  • Add the soaked rice and the chopped potatoes, cook for 45 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the peas and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the both the peas and carrots are tender.
  • Add the chopped cilantro and serve with avocado slices and hot sauce or aji.
Chicken rice soup recipe - Aguado de gallina

These days even in Ecuador you are probably more likely to find this soup made with pollo than with gallina, especially in the larger cities. However, if you find yourself in small town where people raise their own chickens you just might get to enjoy an authentic aguado de gallina.

Aguado de gallina soup

During my last visit to Ecuador, I had the best aguado de gallina that was cooked in small hut (no electricity) in a clay pot over a wood burning stove, and prepared with the freshest chicken- and by freshest I mean that it was walking around outside when we arrived. As with most other Ecuadorian soups, I served this aguado chicken rice soup with avocado slices, you can also sprinkle it with some chopped chives or chopped green onions and serve some ají hot sauce on the side.

Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian chicken rice soup {Aguado de gallina}

Chicken rice soup preparation
Aguado de gallina preparation
Chicken soup preparation
Chicken rice soup with carrots, potatoes and peas
Aguado de pollo
Aguado de gallina
Aguado de gallina / Chicken rice soup
Chicken soup
Chicken rice soup or aguado with avocado slices
Ecuadorian chicken rice soup
Aguado de gallina or chicken rice soup
Aguado chicken rice soup

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  1. Thank you so much for this recipe! It was so absolutely perfect for tonight: My husband, who spent a fondly remembered six months abroad in Ecuador during college, was feeling a bit under the weather tonight. To top it off, he had to wait an hour in the rain for a bus, which had gotten snarled in the downtown Seattle vandalism traffic this May Day. Imagine how perfect it was when I greeted him at the door w/ this therapeutic soup that triggered lovely memories of his college days. The kids loved it, too. I’m so pleased that I made a double batch and gave some to a friend with a three-week old baby and a husband who just took a job in NYC. I’m sure she’ll feel as comforted by this lovely stew as our family! Thank you again.

    Your photos are lovely, by the way!! A treasured blog….I’ll check in frequently!

  2. Laylita, acabo de hacer el aguado de gallina y salió delicioso …. todos repiteron y como decimos los ecuatorianos “estaba levanta muertos” , yo no se cocinar mucho y estoy empezando con tus recetas y hasta ahora todo me esta saliendo bien, mi fan número uno es mi hijo y hasta ahora todo A+.

  3. Hola Laylita, me encanta tu pagina la descubri por casualidad y ahora es mi pagina de referencia para mis comidad especiales, yo soy de Loja pero llevo 15 años en España y gracias a dios aqui tenemos de todo o casi de todo para preparar la comida Ecuatoriana, lo unico que te pido es que hay algunas recetas que estan en ingles y me gustaria mucho que las tradugeras al español, gracias de antemano.
    Un Saludo.

  4. Thank you for these wonderful recipes!! I’m married to an Ecuadoran American and am so happy to have these recipes. I just made the aguado de gallina and it was delicious!! Tomorrow I’m making the menestra (again!).

  5. Es el aguado mas rico que me he comido en mucho tiempo, muchas gracias por esta receta me traido el aguado de mi abuela.

  6. Hi Laylita

    I have the same issue with American chickens. Sad when your pinot noir in coqu au vin is met with falling apart meat!

    Once upon a time before Dominick’s/Safeway took over the local market, I could rarely find stewing hens. They’re the size of capons and my roommate laughed at me trying to butcher one into pieces — tough but flavorful and hard to cut up. I asked if I could order such at Whole Foods, Dominicks, Jewel — they even laughed and said “our clients prefer young birds!”

    Well I found two solutions: Frozen chickens from China at the Asian market or Nigerian Hard Chickens (presumed fresh – not sure where they are raised) at African markets. They are smaller, stringier, but as tasty as the old stewing hen.

    I am going to try your recipe this weekend. I got a bird on sale and also broth, how lucky!


  7. Thank you so much for this recipe, I will try it right now, God bless you for posting all the Ecuadorian recipes.

  8. Hi/hola Laylita:
    I am going to cook this recipe tomorrow. It is a great recipe so I KNOW it will come out great!! Thank you a lot for your nice work and for sharing it with everybody.

  9. I tried this recipe and it came out great…very delicious! Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe! I was born in Ecuador and I was searching for a traditional dish and found this recipe…I’m glad I did! My family loved the soup! :)

  10. Hi,

    I love your site! My family is from Loja and guess what! i love alverjas soup! it is my favority!

    thanks a lot… i am leaving in Canada currently..

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