Soto Ayam – Indonesian Chicken Soup

We blog about this recipe here.

Soto Ayam - Indonesian Chicken Soup

Note: this is not a quick and easy recipe, but when it’s chilly outside and you’re stuck inside, it’s a fun kitchen project with delicious “hygge” results.  Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

about 3 lbs chicken (use a whole one, cut up, or parts you like; I tend to prefer thighs, necks, wings, for broth.
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, bruised with the handle of a heavy knife
6 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
1 tsp Diamond kosher salt, more to taste (I used about 1 T for the 2 qts. water)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 T coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
5 shallots, peeled and halved (shallots vary a lot in size; I used about 12 oz of shallots)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp finely minced fresh turmeric, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 T finely minced ginger
3 T peanut oil
4 oz glass noodles or thin dried rice noodles, called vermicelli, bihun or bun
1 T fresh lime juice
2 T chopped celery leaves, mint, Thai basil or cilantro leaves
2 shallots, thinly sliced and fried in vegetable oil until brown (Epicurious says these are optional, but I think they’re essential; you can buy them in cans and avoid frying them yourself).
Bean sprouts for serving (optional – but not really)
Hard-boiled eggs, halved, for serving (optional)
Quartered limes and chili paste (such as sambal) for serving
Cooked white rice (optional).

Place chicken in a medium pot with lemon grass, lime leaves (if using), salt and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes, skimming as needed to make a clear broth. Remove chicken pieces from broth and set aside. Remove and discard lemon grass and lime leaves; reserve stock in pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat into bite-size pieces. (Note: I like to make the broth far enough ahead of time that I can chill the broth and skim off the fat).

Combine peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a spice grinder. Pulse until ground. Add halved shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger and pulse to a thick paste. (Add a little water if needed.)

Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add spice paste and cook – over medium heat – stirring until paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked spice paste and chicken meat to stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Turn off heat under soup and stir in lime juice. Taste for salt.

To serve, divide noodles in large soup bowls. Ladle chicken pieces and soup on top, add an egg half and bean sprouts to each bowl, and sprinkle with celery leaves or herbs, and fried shallots. Pass lime slices and sambal at the table.

Eat from soup bowl, or serve a scoop of rice on a side plate, sprinkled with more shallots, and put a mouthful of noodles and chicken on rice. Combine on a spoon, dab with sambal, and eat.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.

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