Soto Ayam (Indonesia Traditional Chicken Soup Recipe)


My husband’s most favorite food is soto ayam. If I can describe it, soto ayam is actually one of Indonesia traditional chicken or beef soup (but today I’m going to post the one that is using chicken). My son didn’t really like it previously, but since I cook this very often, he is now liking this dish also. I like to cook this because my son can eats lots of bean sprouts in this dish (he usually didn’t like this veggie).

It is one of our comforting food too, with lots of spices inside, vegetables, chicken, and hot chicken broth, topped with condiments such as fried shallot and poya, this dish is very famous in Indonesia. Different provinces in Indonesia have their own authentic recipes and using different kinds of meat, spices, and condiments. My favorite so far are Soto Kudus (Kudus a city in Central Java near Semarang which was my parents’ hometown and the place where I was born, that is why I like almost all food that comes from this area), Soto Ambengan (it is originated from Surabaya which was my husband’s hometown and I love it since he introduced me to this dish in one of our dates before we got married), Soto Padang (Padang is a city in Sumatera and one of my best friend is from Padang and she introduced me to this dish and it was just simply delicious), and Soto Banjar (originated from a city in Kalimantan and I’ve visited this place before and fell in love with this dish immediately). I also like Soto Betawi (Betawi was an old name of Jakarta because I lived in Jakarta for so many years, but for healthy reason (because it’s using coconut milk), I haven’t eaten this for many years. Nowadays, some of the restaurants change the coconut milk to milk, but I never like it that way.

Soto is very famous in Indonesia and can be found from five star hotel restaurants to street vendor food stalls. I believe every family has its own recipe that is inherited from generation to generation. My recipe here is already a combination between Soto Semarang and Soto Ambengan because my mom taught me how to make Soto Semarang and my husband likes Soto Ambengan so much, so I combine both of them. The big differences are: the one that my mom make  used  do not use poya and use lots of turmeric. By the way, Soto Kudus usually also add sweet soy sauce in the soup too, but my mom doesn’t cook soup that way, but we will add the sweet soy sauce in our bowl instead…………and lots of it. Poya is a condiment for soto made from fried garlic and fried shrimp crackers, blend together with salt and sugar until they turn into crumbs. For people who like poya a lot, they will add lots of it to their bowl of hot soto and sprinkle it on top of their hot steam rice.

Some things are different here and there but not that much and do not effect the whole taste. My husband was the one who introduced me to poya and I am now a big fan of poya and must have it whenever I am eating soto.

For first timer, soto might be very hard to make because of the so many ingredients being used and the very long cooking process, but for us who already make this dish for many times, it is actually very easy and we already memorize all the ingredients and cooking process.

There are many other things to prepare while cooking the chicken and the soup, that's why I never make it on my "lazy days........"
There are many other things to prepare while cooking the chicken and the soup, that’s why I never make it on my “lazy days……..” the day when I just feel to do simple cooking and not washing to many dishes…………..

There are many different ingredients and method of cooking soto, but this how I make it at home:


For your info, I have ready to use shallots, garlic, and candlenuts paste in my freezer. I process them one by one in my blender and put each of them in medium jars for further use. This is how I made them: blend together shallots or garlic or candlenuts with water (not too much, just to make sure the blender will work well, because my blender cannot work without adding water), and store them in jars or plastic containers in the freezer. Indonesian food needs to use these three pastes a lot, so I make them in big batches.

Basic Ingredients

  1. 1 whole kampong chicken, clean and cut 4
  2. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 2 thumbs of ginger, cut in thinly slice
  4. 3 tbsp full shallot paste (about 10 shallots)
  5. 3 tbsp full garlic paste (about 10 shallots)
  6. 2 tbsp full candlenuts (about 5 candlenuts)
  7. 2 tsp coriander seeds
  8. 1 tbsp dried prawn (optional)
  9. 1 thumb of galangal  (peel and cut in big slice)
  10. 1 or 2 tsp of turmeric powder (if you like the soup to have more yellow color, add 2 tsp turmeric powder, but if you want the soup in light yellow color then just add 1 tsp of turmeric)
  11. 2 stalks of lemon grass, crush
  12. 15 lime leaves
  13. 5 salam leaves
  14. 2.5 L of boil water plus another 500 ml of hot water
  15. 2 tsp sugar
  16. 5 tbsp salt or to taste
  17. 1 tomato, cut 4
  18. 1 handful of celery leaves
  19. 1 tbsp fried shallot
  20. 1 tbsp poya


  1. 1 packet of bean sprouts, blanch or cook in boil water (can also use sliced cabbage, cook in boiling water for 1 minute)
  2. 100 gr rice vermicelli, pre-soaked in cold water for about 10 minutes and then to the hot water until soft
  3. 2 (or more) potatoes, cut 4
  4. 2 (or more) hard boiled eggs, peel
  5. Fried shallot
  6. Limes
  7. Poya
  8. Tomato, thinly sliced
  9. Spring onion, chopped
  10. Sweet soy sauce and Indonesia traditional chili
  11. Rice crackers or shrimp crackers or melinjo crackers (emping)

Poya Ingredients:

  1. 15 shrimps crackers, fried
  2. 15 minced garlic, fried until brown
  3. 1/2 tsp of sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp of salt

Shrimp crackers and fried garlicShrimp cracker and fried garlic

Making Poya:

  1. Blend all the poya ingredients in the food processor
    Poya is a must if you eat Soto Ambengan


  2. Keep in a jar or plastic container in the fridge

    I always make poya in big batch because daddy likes it so much
    I always make poya in big batch because daddy likes it so much

Making Soto:

  1. Heat a large pan in a medium heat
  2. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  3. Add ginger and stir fry until fragrant
  4. Add basic ingredients number 4 to 10 and stir fry until really fragrant and a bit dry
  5. Add basic ingredients number 11 to 13 and stir fry for about 1 minute
  6. Add chicken, stir fry until the chicken turn color and mix well with the spices
  7. Mean while, prepare 3 L of hot boil water in large pot. Once it boiled, turn to low heat
    Working in low heat is very important because it will make the broth flavorful
    Working in low heat is very important because it will make the broth flavorful


  8. Remove everything in the pan to the pot and cook in low heat for about 3 hours (if the chicken is not tender yet, add more time to cook). If the water reduce during the cooking process, add again with hot water little by little
  9. 15 minutes before end of cooking process, add basic ingredients number 15 to 18
  10. Add potato and eggs at the same time (I do this so the potato and eggs absorb all the spices in the soup)
  11. Make sure the potato is cooked, then turn off the heat
  12. Take out the potato and eggs. Cut the potato into small cubes and cut 4 the eggs
  13. Cover the pot for 1 hour
  14. After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside. Fry the chicken until brown and shred into small pieces, or you can just shred the chicken without frying it first (healthier option)
  15. Set up a mesh strainer over another soup pot and strain stock from other ingredient. Bring to boil again but this time add basic ingredients number 19 to 20

    Clear soup after removing all spices
    Clear soup after removing all spices

How to Serve

  1. Put together in a bowl (for one portion): shredded chicken, bean sprouts or cabbage, rice vermicelli, potatoes, eggs, sliced tomatoes, and spring onion. The portion is up to you
  2. Pour the hot chicken broth into the bowl
  3. Add sweet soy sauce IMG_2032
  4. Add chili if you like IMG_2033
  5. Add topping for better taste: fried shallot, poya, and squeeze some lime juice IMG_2034
  6. Mix everything in the bowl IMG_2031
  7. Serve with hot steam rice topped with fried shallot and poya and keropok. Totally delicious…..!!!
My first time making soto
My first time making soto. This was my first soto that I made when I moved to Singapore 3 years ago, and since then I’ve already made this dish many many times (at least once a month)


I have to add sweet soy sauce until the soup turn to black and add chili to make it very spicy
I have to add sweet soy sauce until the soup turn to black and add chili to make it very spicy

If this is too difficult, here is a short cut of how to make it in shorter time: (the taste will still be delicious and just a bit different and this is how my mom used to make it to save time). It doesn’t include frying the spices and mix the chicken with the spices at first step and skipping some ingredients too.

Short Cut Method:

  1. Prepare 2.5 L water in a large pot
  2. Add basic ingredients number 3 to 13 and turn to medium heat
  3. Once the water is boiled, add chicken and turn to low heat
  4. Check if the chicken in tender and fully cooked
  5. Add potatoes, eggs, and fried shallots
  6. Turn of the heat when potatoes are cooked
  7. Remove the chicken, shredded when it’s cool
  8. Follow the step in how to serve. Poya is optional, because only soto from East Java is using this additional ingredients

Slow cooker method: (this is what I did recently since I bought a new slow cooker. This is very easy and convenient as I do not need to add water and I can leave the house to go somewhere else for few hours and when I get home………….it is ready and cooked perfectly)

  1. Follow the steps of making soto from number 1 to number 6
  2. Meanwhile, prepare to boil 3 L of water. Once it’s boiled, transfer to a slow cooker
  3. Add all the other ingredients on the pan to the slow cooker, cover, and set to low for 4 to 6 hours (the longer the better)
  4. Serve soto ayam hot with other condiments

Soto ayam is perfect to be eaten at anytime, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can find many stalls selling soto everywhere in most part of Indonesia. It is a well known dish in Indonesia and one of the best traditional food from Indonesia. If you still find it too difficult to make, choose the easy way and buy soto ayam instant spices in supermarket (I can’t recommend which brand is good because I never buy any of them)……………………save time, energy, very little dish to wash, and yet you can still eat delicious homemade soto ayam.



One thought on “Soto Ayam (Indonesia Traditional Chicken Soup Recipe)

  1. Pingback: (Red) Tomato Soup / Sop Merah – Making memories in every dish

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