Soto (traditional Indonesian soup) is widely enjoyed throughout Indonesia and every region has its own specialty soto. In Jakarta, the de facto soto is soto betawi, where it can be found everywhere, from side street food carts, hole-in-a-wall places, food courts in malls, upscale restaurants, all the way to five-star hotels.
Each place will have their own way of preparing soto betawi, with a highly guarded blend of secret spices, and each with fierce die-hard fans touting theirs has got be the one offering the most original and most delicious soto betawi.
What you need to prepare authentic Indonesian soto betawi
Living half-way across the globe means I need to find an excellent soto betawi recipe that can satisfy me and my hubby love for this soup. I am proud to say that we are extremely happy with this particular recipe. The soup tastes exactly like the one we used to have back in Indonesia.
Here are the ingredients I use for my soto betawi:
- 1 kilogram beef shank (Indonesian: daging sengkel), or you can use other cuts that are suitable for stew or soup
- 500 gram honeycomb tripe or other beef entrails like intestines, or increase the amount of beef if you want to omit this
- 5 lemongrass
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 3 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), these are not the same as regular bay leaves, and is best to omit if you don’t have them
- fresh milk
- coconut milk
- candlenuts, can be substituted with an equal amount of macadamia nuts
Cooking the soup
Before cooking the soup, the very first thing we do is to prepare the spice paste. You can use a food processor or a blender to do this. If you want a truly smooth paste, please add about 2 tablespoons of water along with all the spices, but it is also okay if the spice paste is not very smooth.
Once the spice paste is ready, you can do the following to cook the soup:
- Boil together beef, tripes, lemongrass, daun salam, fresh milk, and spice paste over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until both the meat and tripe are tender. About 2 hours.
TIPS: If using a pressure cooker, this step will only take 30 minutes.
- Remove the meat and tripe from the pot to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces.
Optional step: Strain the soup to remove any impurities and scums to get a clear soup, then return the strained soup to the soup pot.
- Return the pieces of meat and tripe into the soup pot, add water, coconut milk, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, discard lemongrass and daun salam. Stir in kaffir lime leaves.
What to serve with soto betawi
Soto betawi is never just about the soup. It is not considered complete if you don’t serve the soup with its accompaniments. I usually prepare all of these while the soup is slowly simmering away:
- make some acar (Indonesian pickle)
- fry potato cubes
- fry emping (melinjo crackers)
- fry shallots (Indonesian: bawang goreng), you can use store-bought too
- thinly slice some scallions
- dice a couple of fresh tomatoes
- cut a couple of limes into slices, so each person can add squeeze some fresh lime juice into the soup to suit their taste
We usually enjoy our soto betawi with some steamed white rice, all the above accompaniments, and a bottle of kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce).
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