A Simple Soto Recipe

You’ll often hear soto described as Indonesia’s twist on classic noodle soup. Hearty, rich, and just as delicious, it’s easy to see why. Different regions of Indonesia put their own spins on the staple dish, but the core ingredients are the same: broth, meat (almost always chicken), and vegetables.

Soto Kudus contains clear, yellow chicken broth, while Soto Betawi often includes beef instead of chicken and is cooked with coconut milk, fried potatoes, and tomatoes.

There are so many different variations on soto that not even native Indonesians have tried them all!

Feeling hungry? Here’s one simple recipe for authentic Soto Kudus, a variation that originated in Central Java.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken (If possible, choose free-range chicken. In Indonesia, most chickens are naturally grown and raised without hormones. There’s a distinct difference in Indonesian culture between “ayam kampoeng”, or village chickens, and “ayam broiler”, which are much fatter).
  • 4 boiled eggs, halved
  • 150 grams of mung beans, rinsed and strained with clean water
  • 5 stalks of celery leaves, chopped thinly
  • several stalks of lemongrass
  • 2 limes, halved
  • 2 spoonfuls of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 litres of water
  • kecap manis* as needed

*Kecap manis is a sweet, thick soy sauce that is extremely popular in Indonesia. You can usually find it in international supermarkets and specialty Asian grocery stores.

Spices:

Indonesia has been known throughout history as the “spice islands”—in fact, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he was really trying to get here! Here’s a list of spices you’ll need. Make sure to grind these up.

If you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle, you could also use a blender.
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 spoonful of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 3 cm of fresh ginger
  • several stalks of lemongrass

Instructions:

  1. Boil water in a pan and boil the chicken until its meat is tender, but not fully cooked.
  2. Saute your spices in a frying pan until your kitchen is filled with their mouthwatering aroma. This is going to be the basis for your broth’s flavor!
  3. Pour the sauteed spices into the pot with the chicken, then add the salt and pepper.
  4. Stir occasionally, keep at low heat, and cover with a lid until the flavor has been absorbed into the chicken and the meat has been fully cooked.
  5. Lift the chicken (don’t get rid of the broth!) and shred it into small pieces. Here’s a quick kitchen hack: use an electric mixer to shred the chicken.
  6. In a bowl, add mung beans, half of a boiled egg, some celery leaves, lemongrass, and a handful of shredded chicken. Ladle some of the broth into the bowl and serve with a side of sweet soy sauce and a sliced lime for a tangy kick of flavor. Your soto kudus is ready to serve.

Note: Indonesians usually eat their meals with a side of rice. If you want to have an authentic Indonesian experience, be sure to cook some rice and serve it alongside the soto. Soto Kudus can also be served with egg noodles or thin rice vermicelli. Just add the noodles to the bowl before pouring the broth in.

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