Soto Ayam

This hearty Soto Ayam, an Indonesian soup, served at Diana and Maylia Widjojo's restaurant Hardena in Philadelphia, is the perfect one-bowl meal. The fragrant soup, filled with juicy chicken and delicate vermicelli noodles, gets topped with cabbage and sprouts to add texture and fresh crunch. The spice paste, bloomed in oil alongside fresh lemongrass and lime leaves, layers a mildly earthy, warming flavor into the broth.

Soto Ayam
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
6 to 8


Spice Paste

  • 1 cup chopped shallots

  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

  • 6 macadamia nuts

  • 4 medium garlic cloves

  • 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh galangal, peeled and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed

  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil

  • 3 fresh makrut lime leaves

  • 2 fresh or 4 dried bay leaves

  • 8 cups water, plus more as needed

  • 4 cups unsalted chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken

  • 2 cups well-shaken and stirred coconut milk

  • 1 (8.8-ounce) pkg. rice vermicelli noodles, prepared according to pkg. directions

  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts

  • 1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered

  • 1 (8-ounce) tomato, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions

  • ¼ cup fried shallots (such as Maesri)

  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


Make the spice paste

  1. Combine shallots, turmeric, cumin, macadamia nuts, garlic, ginger, and galangal in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped and forms a paste, about 15 pulses. Add grape seed oil; pulse until loosened and completely combined, about 5 pulses. Set aside.

Make the soup

  1. Bruise lemongrass using flat side of a knife. Heat grape seed oil in a large stockpot over medium. Add lime leaves, bay leaves, and bruised lemon grass; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spice paste; cook, stirring often, until mixture starts to darken and thicken, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups water, broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil over high. Add whole chicken to broth mixture, adding water as needed to cover chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 155°F, about 30 minutes.

  2. Add coconut milk to chicken mixture in pot. Bring to a boil over medium; boil until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and carefully transfer chicken to a plate. Remove and discard lime leaves, bay leaves, and lemongrass from broth; season broth with salt to taste. Cover and keep broth warm. Let chicken stand until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken; pull and shred meat into large pieces.

  3. Divide noodles evenly among bowls, and top with bean sprouts, cabbage, and chicken. Ladle warm broth into bowls; top evenly with eggs, tomato, scallions, and fried shallots. Serve with lime wedges.


Look for lemongrass, galangal, and makrut lime leaves at Asian grocery stores.

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