Indonesian Chicken Noodle Soup (Soto Ayam)

Soto Ayam with fried vermicelli and fried potato and green sambal version.

Wanna know what’s my family most favorite dish that I make almost in a weekly basis? It’s Soto Ayam! Soto (Indonesian soup) Ayam (chicken) consists of chicken broth seasoned with some spices including turmeric, served with shredded chicken, veggie, boiled egg and noodle. Eaten with steamed rice, sambal and krupuk plus potato frikkadel or any other condiments… yummm

There are many variations to Soto Ayam. It’s usually named after the region/town of where the Soto Ayam is from or the eatery’s brand. So there are Soto Ayam Ambengan, Soto Ayam Lamongan, Soto Ayam Surabaya, Soto Ayam Gebrak, the list goes on. The difference among different regions or brands are usually in the condiments. The condiments can range from different veggies, more (or no) soy sauce, type of krupuk, type of noodle used and many more. My favorite Soto Ayam is of from Ambengan region. I love how the “koya” thicken the soto and adding beautiful flavor.  Koya is homemade powder made from Indonesian fried prawn crackers (krupuk udang) mixed with fried garlic.  I haven’t got Krupuk Udang anymore as I finished my last stock from Indonesia, so this recipe is more “overseas ingredient friendly”. Some tips: (1) you can food processor the paste ingredients double or triple the recipe. Keep the unused paste in separate containers in the freezer for next time; (2) The method of my Soto Ayam making is easier and quicker as I put the chicken with the paste and boil  them together. The result that the chicken is tastier. Then you don’t even have to fry the chicken afterward. Just shred and serve. It’s quicker and healthier.

Soto Ayam with potato frikaddel and red sambal option.


7 portions


1 whole Chicken

2.5 L (approx) water

2 bruised Lemongrass

5 dried Kaffir lime leaves

2 cm of bruised Galangal

1 teaspoon Turmeric

2 tablespoon Oil

Make a paste (with pestle and mortar or food processor):

1 medium onion or 10 small red onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 cm ginger

5 candle nut (not available in Cape Town. You can omit the candlenut)

1/2 teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Condiment (Some are optional):

Boiled eggs (one for each bowl, halved)

Glass (mung beans) noodles (pour and soak in boiling water, rinse the water as soon as the noodles is soft) or

Rice vermicelli (I like the rice vermicelli to be fried rather than boiled)

Celery and Spring Onion (thinly sliced)


Lemon/Lime wedges

Fried onion


Potato frikaddel *recipe to follow OR

thinly sliced potato, fried or air-fried.

Koya (Indonesian fried prawn crackers and fried garlic pounded)

Veggies for the condiments: Choose from bean sprout, or shredded cabbage or thinly sliced cucumber or thinly sliced tomatoes.


  • In a large pot, heat up the oil.
  • Add the paste, turmeric, galangal, lime leaves, lemon grass. Stir fry until fragrant.
  • Add the cleaned whole chicken/chicken pieces.
  • Slightly brown the chicken.
  • Add water (preferably hot water) to cover the chicken.
  • Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Bring it to boil. Lower the heat. Cover with the lid.
  • Boil until the chicken is tender.
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the condiments.
  • Once chicken is tender, take it out from the pot.
  • De-bone and thinly slice or shred the chicken meats.
  • Heat up the soup/chicken broth just before serving.

To serve:

  • In individual bowl, place all the condiment, except for dried condiment and lime/lemon/sambal.
  • Pour the soto/chicken broth over the bowl.
  • Place the dried condiment, such as fried onion, krupuk, potato on top. Alternatively, serve the dried condiment, lime and sambal on the plate where the steamed white rice is served.

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