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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. Hi Laylita! How would the recipe differ (if at all) if I could get my hands on a gallina? In NYC there are stores that sell fresh chickens.

    1. Hi Ricardo, Yes, you would increase the cooking time since a chicken or hen will be older and need more time to get tender. Especially if it’s a gallina “de campo” or free range chicken that will be leaner, but more flavorful.

  2. This will be on the menu next week!

    Appreciated finding your site last year after my visit to Cuenca. It gave me a lot to look forward to when I returned.

    I’m now living in Cuenca and enjoying all the wonderful foods, sites, and Ecuadorian peoples! I will be using pollo, but the vegetables will be fresh from the mercado.

  3. Mi senora usted me ayuda a q no me equivoque en ninguna comida en mi casa, con su Guia
    todas resultan exquisitas.
    Gracias por el apoyo a las no tan buenas en la cocina como yo ;)
    Mil bendiciones !!!!s

  4. Estimada Sra. Laylita:
    Me dirijo a Usted para agradecerle por esas recetas tan hermosas que Usted se a dignado a poner en la internet. Sus recetas me han hecho llorar al recordarme mi ninez en Ecuador. Mis padres me trajeron a EEUU cuando era aun muy nina, pero los recuerdos de Quito y de la tierra de mis abuelos Bolivar nunca se han borrado de mi mente. Sus recetas hacen mas que proveer una guia para una buena comida, traen para aquellos que anoramos nuestros antepasados y donde nacimos, recuerdos preciosos. Dios la bendinga.

  5. Do you know where I can find thin leafed cilantro here in the US? I loved the cilantro in Ecuador; it is so much better than the large leaf type, in my opinion. Do you know what variety it is? Thank you for your recipes! We miss the food in Ecuador so much. Best food on earth :)

    1. Hi Celeste – Try your local farmer’s market, or if you can grow it yourself in a container. In Ecuador they let the plants grow longer before they cut the cilantro, which is why you get those very thin small leaves.

      1. Do you keep it covered once you add the potatoes and the rice for the 45 minutes? I’m assuming yes but wasn’t sure ?

  6. I really want to make this recipe–it looks amazing! But as someone who lives alone, I need to know how many servings I’ll get out of this serving (so I can invite friends to help me eat all of it). I can’t wait to try this.

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