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Soto Ayam

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You can’t go to Indonesia without running into soto ayam, a delicious noodle soup.

Soto ayam was my breakfast most mornings while I was travelling around Bali. It’s much more common to have this for lunch or dinner in the West.

Traditionally, soto ayam is a fragrant and delicious chicken soup that isn’t spicy. I always asked for chopped chillies with mine to turn up the heat a bit, but you can leave the chillies out if you like. 

soto ayam in a serving bowl.

What exactly is soto ayam?

Soto Ayam is a popular Indonesian soup known for its rich and aromatic broth, tender chicken, and a variety of flavourful and colourful toppings.

The soup is hugely in Indonesia and is often enjoyed for breakfast though it is served for lunch, or dinner too.

Soto Ayam is a versatile dish that can be found throughout Indonesia, with regional variations in ingredients and preparation methods.

The combination of fragrant broth, tender chicken, and a variety of toppings and condiments makes Soto Ayam one of the most popular Indonesian breakfast dishes.

How do you make soto ayam?

For best results, you want to start with a good chicken broth. Any will do and you can even use water instead but for more depth of flavour, I recommend making your own chicken stock.

You then prepare a paste of aromatic ingredients such as garlic, ginger and/or galangal, candlenuts or macadamia nuts and shallots. The paste adds a whole lot of flavour to the soup!

With the paste ready, all you need to do is fry it for a few minutes and then add the chicken stock, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves and chicken to simmer for about 45 minutes. I go more in depth about all this in the recipe card below but it really is an easy process.

How do you serve soto ayam?

Just like you would any noodle soup but soto ayam is often topped with tasty things such as cabbage, coriander (cilantro), bean sprouts and red chillies.

Not all soto ayam soups have hard boiled egg in them but most do. If you decide to add hard boil egg, I recommend boiling them for about 8 minutes and then placing them in ice cold water to stop them cooking.

Often, you will see soto ayam served with sauces such as sambal oelek and kecap manis. Both are delicious with this soup.

How long can you store soto ayam in the fridge?

You can usually keep the leftovers for about 3 days, covered tightly in the fridge. Of course this depends on the freshness of your ingredients when you start.

To reheat the soup, simply pour it into a sauce pan over a medium heat until hot. You could also heat your soto ayam up in a microwave for a couple of minutes.

Can you freeze this noodle soup?

If you decide to freeze the soup, I recommend freezing it without the noodles. They just don’t freeze well from my experience.

The broth and chicken can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Top Tips.

1. If time permits, make you own chicken stock. It is a good idea not to add salt to your homemade stock as this can be added to taste later before serving your soto ayam.

2. Always use the freshest ingredients you can get your hands on. You will be happy you did. The spice paste needs to be really fresh so that it adds an amazing flavour to the soup.

3. Watch the chicken as it simmers and don’t overcook it! My recipe in the recipe card below should achieve perfectly cooked chicken.

Step by step photographs.

Ingredients for the recipe.

Get all your ingredients measured out and ready before you start cooking.

Blending the spice paste ingredients.

Blend the paste ingredients until smooth.

Frying the spice paste in oil.

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and stir in the spice paste. Fry for about 3 minutes to cook out the raw flavour.

Adding the lemongrass and makrut lime leaves to the paste in the pan.

Add the lemongrass and makrut lime leaves to the paste and stir them in.

Pouring the stock into the pan and bringing to a simmer.

Pour in the stock or water and bring to a simmer.

Adding the chicken to the stock.

Add the chicken to the stock.

Covering the pan to gently simmer for about 45 minutes.

Removing the chicken from the simmering stock.

Remove the chicken from the stock after 45 minutes of simmering and set aside. Keep warm.

Simmering the stock further.

After you remove the chicken, you can continue simmering the stock while you prepare the noodles as the package instructions. Try it and add sugar and salt to taste.

Plating the soto ayam

To plate it up, add some noodles to a bowl and top with some shredded cabbage, quartered tomatoes and the chicken.

Garnishing the soup with hard boiled egg, chillies, bean sprouts and coriander (cilantro. Then the stock.

Garnish the soup with things like chillies, bean sprouts and coriander (cilantro) and then add the hot broth. A squeeze of lime juice is also very nice.

A spoonful of the soup.



If you like this soto ayam recipe, you might also like to try some of these.

Indonesian Chicken Sate
Indonesian Fried Chicken
Sambal Oelek – Indonesian hot sauce
Chicken with Sambal Matah
Babi Kecap
Spicy Green Beans Indonesian Style
Indonesian Bakso
Ikan Bakar – Indonesian Fried Fish
Nasi Goreng
Mee Goreng
Sambal La La – Spicy Clams
Indonesian Blackened Fish
Seafood Laksa
Chicken Rendang
Beef Rendang
Butter Egg Floss Prawns
Malaysian Chicken Curry
Malaysian Devil Curry
Ayam Masak Merah – Malaysian Red Chicken Curry
Chicken Kapitan
Homemade Kecap Manis

Have you tried this soto ayam recipe?

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Yield: 4

Soto Ayam

soto ayam in a serving bowl.


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) or peanut oil
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, lightly crushed
  • 6 makrut lime leaves
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) chicken stock or water
  • 1 tsp Asian chicken powder (contains MSG and is optional)
  • 8 large chicken thighs on the bone, skin removed
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) dried rice vermicelli
  • 100g (3 1/2oz) shredded green cabbage
  • 1 small bunch of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved (optional)
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 red finger chillies or bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced into rings (optional)
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger,
  • roughly chopped
  • 2 macadamia or candle nuts,
  • lightly smashed (optional for thickening)
  • 5 medium shallots (approx.100g/3 1/2oz), roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric


  1. Prepare the paste by placing the ingredients in a blender and blending to a smooth, pourable paste. Set aside. This can be done a day or so ahead of cooking if more convenient.
  2. When ready to cook, heat the oil over a medium–high heat in a saucepan that is large enough to hold all the ingredients. Stir in the prepared paste and fry for about 3 minutes to cook out the raw flavour. Then add the crushed lemongrass and the lime leaves.
  3. Fry for a further minute and then add the chicken stock or water and the Asian chicken powder, if using. Add the chicken to the stock and bring to a simmer.
  4. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
  5. After 45 minutes, lift the lid and remove the chicken with a slotted spoon. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool some and continue simmering the soup for another 15 minutes.
  6. While the soup is simmering, you can finish up this dish. Pour boiling water over the rice vermicelli noodles and let them sit in the water until cooked. This should only take a couple of minutes. Strain and divide between 4–6 soup bowls.
  7. Top each bowl with some chicken, shredded cabbage, coriander (cilantro), a couple of tomato wedges, two halves of egg, if using, and the spring onions (scallions). Taste the stock and add a little sugar if you prefer a sweeter flavour and also add salt to taste.
  8. Add a couple of ladles of the stock to each bowl and serve hot with a side of chopped chillies, if you like, and some lime wedges for squeezing over.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 47gCholesterol: 523mgSodium: 827mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 7gSugar: 14gProtein: 77g

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Kanishka Jayaweera

Wednesday 8th of May 2024


Dan Toombs

Tuesday 14th of May 2024

Thank you very much, very good to hear. Dan

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