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Soto Ayam is one of the most popular classic dishes in Indonesia. Soto is simply an Indonesian style soup which often uses different kind of spices to give packed full of flavour. Ayam is the Indonesian word for chicken.

This recipe is an authentic soto recipe from East Java region in Indonesia. Each region has its own version of soto. There is soto that uses beef instead of chicken, and some incorporate coconut milk. This Javanese style soto uses chicken and has clear yellow broth in particular.

I grew up eating Soto Ayam as a family comfort food. Everything was made from scratch so it did take time to cook. The hard work paid off when the food was served at the dining table. It was the food that everyone loved.

How to make Soto Ayam

First, you blend the spices to make a paste. You can use frozen or fresh ingredients or even replace them with powdered spices.

Then you make the soup. Fry the spice paste and add water and whole chicken to make stock. You have to fry the spice to build the flavour. It’s the key to a fragrant soup.

While waiting for the chicken to cook, prepare toppings like shredded cabbage, hard-boiled egg, potato fritters and noodle. Once chicken is cooked and cooled, shred the chicken.

Soto Ayam is usually served in an individual bowl rather than one big pot. To serve, place shredded cabbage, noodle, chicken in the bowl, pour the soup. Top with egg, celery leaves, fried shallot and sambal. You can eat Soto on its own or eat it with rice.

What goes into Soto Ayam?

A lot!

But we can make it as simple as just the chicken soup! Yes there are many elements to make Soto Ayam. That’s the reason I like to cook in a large quantity because of the amount of effort that goes into it.

You’ve got the eggs, noodle, chopped celery leaves, potato fritter, koya powder and sambal chilli. That’s how the locals actually eat.

What if I want the most simplified Soto Ayam?

You can have just the chicken and the soup.

I personally will add hard-boiled eggs for extra protein, shredded cabbage for vegetable and either glass noodle or rice for carbs.

Soto Ayam (Chicken Turmeric Soup)

Soto Ayam is one of the most popular classic dishes in Indonesia. Soto is simply an Indonesian style soup which often uses different kind of spices to give packed full of flavour.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indonesian


  • Food processor or mortar & pestle
  • Heavy based pot



  • 200 g Shallot
  • 40 g Garlic
  • 35 g Fresh Turmeric or 2-3tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 25 g Ginger
  • 5-8 tbsp Canola Oil to fry paste


  • 3 stalks Lemongrass cut into thirds, then bruised
  • 1 cm Galangal sliced
  • 12 Kaffir Lime Leaves


  • 12 g Ground White Pepper
  • 12 g Salt
  • 12 g Sugar
  • 12 g Chicken Powder optional
  • 2-3 l Water boiled
  • 1 Whole Chicken approximately 1.5kg
  • Cabbage shredded
  • 4 Egg hard boiled, then halved


  • Fried Shallot
  • Spring Onion chopped
  • Celery Leaves chopped


  • Create paste in food processor or mortar & pestle; blend until smooth.
  • Heat up a heavy bottom pot, and add oil (approximately 1-2 minutes).
    Tip: use a pot with similar size to the chicken, slightly taller.
  • Lower the heat, fry paste, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant (approximately 5-8 minutes).
    Tip: you can add more oil and lower heat if paste starts sticking to pot.
  • Add hot water and mix well.
  • Add chicken, make sure it's well submerged.
  • Simmer on low heat (with lid on) until chicken is cooked (approximately 30-40 minutes).
  • Take out chicken, drain and let it cool; then cut it into 4 pieces and shred.
  • Season soup with salt, pepper, sugar and chicken powder (optional).
  • To serve: add cabbage and shredded chicken into a bowl, and then laddle in soup.
  • Top with potato cake, egg and sambal.
  • Garnish with fried shallots, spring onion and celery leaves.
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