If you have been to Jakarta, Bali, or any part of Indonesia and are craving that delicious Soto Ayam, you can now make it right at home. It's the best soup to serve on cold or rainy days.
In this post, I will show you how to make an authentic Soto Ayam recipe from scratch. This classic Indonesian chicken soup is packed with complex flavors but it's actually very easy to make.
Soto Ayam, also known as Soto Ayam Bening is one of the easiest Indonesian soup recipes you can make. Anyone can put this meal together, there are no special cooking skills required.
This chicken soup is loaded with juicy chicken and aromatic spices. It's delicious!
It is one of my favorite childhood comfort foods. It's so healthy and filling, yet I could eat Soto Ayam every day and would never get tired of it.
What is Soto Ayam
Soto means soup while Ayam means chicken. Soto Ayam is a classic chicken soup from Indonesia but also popular in Singapore and Malaysia.
It's traditionally served with vermicelli noodles (or Bihun/Bee Hoon), shredded chicken, and eggs.
In addition, the soup is topped with bean sprouts, cabbage, fried shallots, cilantro, Chinese celery, and krupuk or emping. These toppings add a nice crunch to the dish.
Soto Ayam isn't spicy. However, many Indonesian people love spicy food so It's very common to enjoy Soto Ayam with sambals. Sambal is the traditional Indonesian chili paste, so addictive.
A Famous Indonesian Street Food
Soto Ayam is also one of the most popular Indonesian street foods.
You can easily find it in every corner of the city. It is sold by street hawkers or vendors at warung food stalls or food carts (Gerobak).
What is Soto Ayam made of?
Soto Ayam is made with chicken and homemade spice paste then served with toppings.
The broth is infused with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. This combination of herbs and spices gives it layers of mild earthy and aromatic flavors.
One of the most unique things about Soto Ayam is the yellow broth. It looks quite similar to yellow curry due to having turmeric as one of the ingredients.
However, Soto Ayam broth is so much lighter than curry because it doesn't contain any coconut milk or yogurt.
Please keep in mind that MSG is widely used in Indonesia. So, in order to get the closest broth quality as street vendors, use a small amount of chicken granulated powder. Fortunately, you can find many chicken bouillon options in markets that don't contain MSG.
Bumbu Soto Ayam - Homemade Spice Paste for Soto Ayam
Making your own spice paste (also known as Bumbu) for Soto Ayam is pretty simple.
There is no need to purchase premade Soto Ayam because those commercial seasoning products are usually loaded with preservatives.
This homemade bumbu tastes better and fresher than the pre-made ones.
The spice paste contains garlic, shallots, candlenut, ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds. You can find most of these ingredients at any Asian grocers such as 99 Ranch Market and H-mart. Or, sometimes even at bigger grocery chains, like Ralph's/Kroger, and Walmart.
How to Make Bumbu Soto Ayam:
To make your own bumbu or spice paste, you will need a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle. Here's how to do it:
- Place garlic, shallots, candlenut, ginger, turmeric, and coriander seeds into a food processor or blender.
- Add a small amount of water and oil, about 1-2 tbsp each then blend the spices until smooth.
- After that, fry the paste in a small amount of oil with kafir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass until fragrant. This extra step is necessary to add more flavors and depth to the dish.
How to Make Soto Ayam
Step 1. Make Your Own Homemade Chicken Broth
- Pull the giblets out of your chicken and cut the meat into 4-6 pieces. Handle chicken safely to avoid food poisoning, you can read more here.
- In a large stock-pot, add chicken pieces and 8 cups of water. Bring it to a boil for 3 minutes over high heat. Carefully remove the chicken pieces from the pot and discard all liquid. This extra step is intended to draw out any impurities in the chicken for a cleaner tasting broth.
- Put the chicken back into a clean stockpot. Add 8 cups of water or as needed to cover the chicken. Bring it to a boil over high heat then lower the heat to medium-low. Skim off any foam, cover the pot, and simmer the broth for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it into small pieces. Set aside.
Step 2. Add the Spice Paste and Simmer
- Stir in the homemade spice paste into the pot.
- Simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, a bit of sugar, and chicken bouillon powder if needed according to your taste.
Step 3. Serve
- Place some cooked vermicelli, egg, and shredded chicken in a bowl.
- Add broth and toppings; shredded cabbages, bean sprouts, sliced tomatoes, and fried shallots.
- Serve with sambals and lime wedges if needed.
The Ingredients and Variations:
- Galangal or Lengkuas or Thai Ginger is a plant in the ginger family. It's commonly found in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cooking. Galangal is slightly peppery, sharper, and spicier than ginger. The skin of the galangal is smoother than ginger but its flesh is much harder. It can be purchased fresh or frozen. The best substitution for galangal is fresh young ginger.
- Candlenut or Kemiri: They are a relative of Macadamia nuts and resemble them in appearance and in texture. It's available at 99 Ranch Market for around two $1.39 per 7 oz bag. The best substitution for candlenut is macadamia or brazil nut.
- Kaffir Lime Leaf: It's an essential ingredient for cooking authentic Thai and Indonesian food. It adds citrus fragrance to any dish. It can be purchased fresh, frozen, and dried. If you can't find it in your area, feel free to skip it.
FAQ and Cooking Tips:
First, let the soup cool down at room temperature but no longer than 2 hours. Store the leftover in an airtight container. It will last 3-5 days in the fridge or 4-6 months in the freezer.
Also, be sure to store the soup and toppings in separate containers.
Store the leftover in an airtight container. It will last up to 5 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.
Yes, you can. Just follow steps #1 - #2 then cook the chicken, spice paste, and 6 cups of water in an Instant Pot for 25 minutes. Once the cooking cycle is completed, let the IP releases the pressure naturally for 15 minutes.
Check Out More Tasty Asian Recipes:
- Egg Drop Soup with Crab Meat
- Sweet and Sour Fish
- Homemade Crab Rangoon
- Instant Pot Fried Rice
- Chicken in Black Bean Sauce
- Chinese Eggplant with Minced Pork
- Spicy Sichuan Noodles
- Chinese Sausage Fried Rice
- Hunan Beef Cumin
- Shrimp and Green Peas Stir Fry
- Minced Pork Noodles Soup
Soto Ayam Recipe - Indonesian Chicken Soup with Vermicelli
- 1 whole chicken , (about 3½-4 pounds) - cut into 4 to 6 pieces.
- 3 lemongrass stalks, (trimmed and bruised) - here's a good lemongrass tutorial
- 7 kafir lime leaves, (fresh or frozen)
- 1 piece galangal , bruised (about a thumb size, 26 grams)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt, (add more according to your liking)
- 1 tsp white sugar
- (optional) chicken bouillon or granulated powder, (as needed - according to your taste)
- 6 garlic cloves
- ¼ pound shallots
- 1½ tbsp coriander seeds, (or about 1½ tsp ground coriander)
- 6 candlenuts
- 1 piece fresh ginger, (about 2-inch)
- 1 piece turmeric, (about 2-inch, 18 grams) or about 1 tbsp of ground turmeric.
- 3 tbsp neutral oil , (divided)
To Serve - Customize Your Own Toppings:
- rice vermicelli, (cook according to the product packaging) or substitute with white rice and serve it on the side.
- bean sprouts
- shredded cabbage
- boiled eggs
- fried shallots
- sliced tomatoes
- chopped green onions
- lime wedges
- chilli sauce or sambals
- Spice Paste: place garlic, shallots, candlenut, ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, 1 tbsp of oil, and 1-2 tbsp of water into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Stir Fry the Paste: In a skillet, heat 2 tbsp of oil over high heat. Cook the spice paste along with kafir lime leaves, galangal, and lemongrass until fragrant and paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 4-5 minutes
- In a large stock-pot, add chicken pieces and 8 cups of water. Bring it to a boil for 3 minutes over high heat. Transfer the chicken to a plate, discard all liquid.
- Put the chicken back into a clean stockpot. Add 8 cups of water. Bring it to a boil over high heat then lower the heat to medium-low. Skim off any foam, cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender.Remove chicken from the pot, shred into small bite pieces. Set aside.
- Stir in the homemade spice paste and bay leaves into the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, a bit of sugar, and chicken bouillon powder if needed according to your taste. Turn off the heat and strain the broth.
- Place some cooked vermicelli, egg, and shredded chicken in a bowl. Add broth and toppings; shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, sliced tomatoes, and fried shallots. Serve and enjoy.