Heirloom Recipes

The Milky, Herby Breakfast Staple Colombians Swear By

September  9, 2017

When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

Mornings are soupy in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá. Fog swirls among the high plateau’s 8 million residents, as if held by the low sides of a coupe bowl. As the fog lifts, another soup emerges, this time edible: Changua con Huevo, a milk and herb broth obscuring delicately poached eggs and, if the mood strikes, a thick slice of bread. Green onion and cilantro lend the soup bright, grassy flavor, harkening to the milk’s origins in nearby Andean valleys, where cattle graze on tropical grasses and rest under canopy trees.

Dairy has a strong history in Colombia—five centuries worth—so it is no surprise that Changua made its way into the morning rotation. Thousands of miles away, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I first tried the high-protein recipe for my quest to eat a meal from every country in the world—something I call my Global Table Adventure—with my picky husband and baby girl. I found the savory broth satisfying and was won over by the quivering poached eggs and the rivers of gold waiting within. When broken, the slightly thick, flowing yolk adds irresistible body and umami to a relatively simple broth. (Traditional recipes for Changua add water to the milk, possibly to stretch a family’s milk supply over a longer period; modern variations swap chicken or vegetable stock for the water, giving a welcome, savory punch to the soup.)

Though Changua only takes 15 minutes to prepare, poaching the eggs requires attention and care. As with all poached eggs, the rule of thumb is to never boil them, lest the eggs become a shaggy, overcooked mess. Moreover, milk dislikes boiling—the dish, at least, agrees with itself. I like to crack the eggs into ramekins, then slowly tip and partially submerge the ramekin into the barely simmering broth (held at approximately 180°F). This—and having a liquid depth of at least 5 inches—helps cushion the egg’s entry, ensuring a lovely teardrop shape. Three or four minutes is all the eggs need to cook through, however for a large brunch consider prepping everything but the herbs the night before.

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To prep the night before: Make the broth and poach the eggs in the traditional way. Rather than cooking for the full 3 to 4 minutes, simmer them just shy of three minutes. Carefully submerge the partially poached eggs in ice water. Once cool, place on a rack over a sheet pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, warm the eggs for a minute or two in the Changua, right before serving your guests. With the temperamental job of poaching the eggs accomplished the night before, you’ll be free to enjoy yourself and your guests in the morning.

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Laura Tamayo Castillo
    Laura Tamayo Castillo
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    Jennifer Spencer
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    Claudia Milena Rodríguez Rodriguez
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    Rodrigo Miguel Hernández


Laura T. September 15, 2017
Coming from Bogota also, I would just add that recipes change family to family but either way you should mention another staple of Colombian cuisine that goes always with the changua and is the arepas.
Jennifer S. September 14, 2017
Interesting and looks good! Can you please explain whether there's a reason to put the bowl of poached cold eggs in ice water on a rack on a sheet pan? It's two more things I'd have to wash and a lot of fridge real estate just for eggs. How come?
Rodrigo M. November 21, 2017
I'm from Barranquilla; I had a girlfriend from Bogota who made changua for me. I loved it! However, she started with minced roasted garlic! Which is how she thought of it, since I am very partial to garlic. I miss my "cachaquita"
Claudia M. September 14, 2017
I'm from Bogotá and we add cheese to changua. It's a must. Come to think of it, we add cheese things to things w almost religious devotion 🤔
In the US, mozzarella or provolone should work. Here in Europe, is add Irish gubeen or aged gruyere