Soto (food)

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Soto ayam.JPG
Soto ayam or chicken soto. Note the transparent yellow broth, the emping and fried shallot
Alternative names Sroto, Coto, Tauto
Course Main course
Place of origin Indonesia
Region or state Nationwide
Creator Indonesian cuisine derived from Chinese cuisine[1][2]
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Various traditional Indonesian chicken, beef, or offal soups
Variations Rich variations across Indonesia
Cookbook:Soto  Soto

In Indonesian cuisine, soto, sroto, tauto, or coto is a traditional soup mainly composed of broth, meat and vegetables. Many traditional soups are called soto, whereas foreign and Western influenced soups are called sop.

Soto is sometimes considered Indonesia's national dish, as it is served from Sumatra to Papua, in a wide range of variations. Soto is omnipresent in Indonesia, available in many an open-air eateries and on many street corners to fine dining restaurants and luxurious hotels.[3] Soto, especially soto ayam (chicken soto), is an Indonesian equivalent of chicken soup. Because it is always served warm with a tender texture, it is considered an Indonesian comfort food.[4][5][6]

Introduced to Suriname by Javanese migrants, it is part of the national cuisine of that country too, where it is spelled saoto.[7]


Although soto was undoubtly developed in the Indonesian archipelago and each region has developed its own distinctive soto recipes, some historians suggest that it was probably influenced by foreign culinary tradition, especially Chinese. Denys Lombard in his book Le Carrefour Javanais suggested that the origin of soto was a Chinese soup called caudo popular in Semarang among Chinese immigrants.[8][2] In the local Javanese dialect, it is called soto, while in Pekalongan it is called tauto, and the dish also reached Makassar where it is called coto. Another scholar suggests that it was more likely a mixture of cooking traditions in the region, namely; Chinese, Indian, and native Indonesian cuisine.[9] There are traces of Chinese influence such as the use of bihun (rice vermicelli) and the preference for fried garlic as a condiment, while the use of turmeric suggests Indian influence. The meat soup dish influenced various regions and each developed its own recipes, with the ingredients being highly localized according to available ingredients and local cooking tradition. As a result, rich variants of soto were developed across Indonesia.


Soto Bangkong from Semarang, chicken soto with cockles and tripes satay, fried tempeh and perkedel
Soto ayam for breakfast in Savoy Homann Bidakara Hotel, Bandung

The spread of soto in Indonesian archipelago was followed by the localization of Soto's recipe, according to available ingredients and distinctive local taste.[2] As the result, myriad soto recipes and variations can be found in Indonesia. Some sotos are named based on the town or region where they are created:

  • Ambon soto, It is made of chicken and broth, flavored and colored with turmeric, ginger, galangal, garlic (the three g's), lemongrass and loads of spices. Served with rice, the add-ins and toppings are blanched bean sprouts, shredded chicken, glass noodles, chopped celery leaves, golden fried shallots, fried potato sticks, kecap manis, hot sauce, and tiny potato croquettes.
  • Bandung soto, a clear beef soto with daikon pieces.
  • Banjar soto, spiced with star anise, clove, cassia and lemongrass and sour hot sambal, accompanied with potato cakes.
  • Banyumas soto or sroto Banyumas or sroto Sokaraja, made special by its peanut sambal, usually eaten with ketupat.
  • Betawi soto, made of beef or beef offal, cooked in a whitish cow milk or coconut milk broth, with fried potato and tomato.
  • Kediri soto, a chicken soto in coconut milk.
  • Kudus soto, made with water buffalo meat due to local taboos of the consumption of beef.
  • Lamongan soto, a popular street food in various Indonesian metropolitan areas, a variation of the Madura soto.
  • Madura soto or soto Sulung/soto Ambengan, made with either chicken, beef or offal, in a yellowish transparent broth.
  • Makassar soto or coto Makassar, a beef and offal soto boiled in water used to wash rice, with fried peanut.
  • Medan soto, a chicken/pork/beef/innards soto with added coconut milk and served with potato croqutte (perkedel). The meat pieces are fried before being served or mixed.
  • Padang soto, a beef broth soto with slices of fried beef, bihun (rice vermicelli), and perkedel kentang (fried mashed potato).
  • Pekalongan soto or tauto Pekalongan, spiced with tauco (a fermented miso-like bean paste).
  • Semarang soto, a chicken soto spiced with candlenut, mixed with rice, perkedel, tempe, and often eaten with sate kerang (cockles on a stick) or tripes and quail eggs. Soto Semarang is also known as Soto Bangkong, named after Bangkong crossroad in Semarang.
  • Tegal soto or Sauto Tegal, almost same with Pekalongan soto spiced with tauco (a fermented miso-like bean paste). Sauto can be chicken soto, beef soto, or even beef offal.

Other sotos are named based on their chief ingredient:

  • Soto ayam is chicken in a yellow spicy broth with lontong, nasi empit, ketupat (rice compressed by cooking wrapped tightly in a leaf, then sliced into small cakes), or vermicelli, commonly found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Soto babat is a cow's or goat's tripe, served in yellow spicy coconut milk soup with vermicelli, potato, and vegetables, usually eaten with rice. It is commonly found throughout Indonesia.
  • Soto kaki (lit. "foot soto") is made of beef tendon and cartilage taken from cow's feet, served in yellow spicy coconut milk soup with vermicelli, potato, vegetables, and krupuk, commonly eaten with rice. It is Betawi food and can found in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Soto tangkar also Betawi specialty soto made of chopped beef ribs (Betawi:tangkar) and beef brisket cooked in coconut milk soup spiced with turmeric, garlic, shallot, chili, pepper, candlenut, cumin, galangal, coriander, cinnamon, Indonesian bay-leaf and kaffir lime leaf.[10]
  • Soto mi (spelled mee soto in Singapore and Malaysia), is a yellow spicy beef or chicken broth soup with noodles, commonly found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Bogor, Indonesia, is famous for its soto mi made with beef broth, kikil (cow's cartilage), noodles, and sliced risoles spring rolls.
  • Soto babi is pork soto from Hindu majority Bali island.[11]


Chicken soto with eggs and tripes satay

The following accompaniments are often eaten alongside soto:

  • Stewed quail eggs or chicken eggs
  • Cockles on a stick (sate kerang)
  • Skewered grilled tripes (sate babat)
  • Skewered grilled chicken giblets, such as intestine, gizzard and liver satay (sate ati ampela dan usus)
  • Fried chicken giblets
  • Prawn crackers, sometimes crushed and mixed with crushed fried garlic as koya in Madura or Lamongan soto
  • Gnetum seed crackers (emping)
  • Fried tofu or tempeh
  • Mashed potato patties (perkedel)
  • Hot chili sauce (sambal)
  • Sweet soy sauce
  • Fried shallot (bawang goreng)
  • Spicy fried grated coconut (serundeng)
  • Lime juice, sometimes replaced with vinegar


The meats that are most commonly used are chicken and beef, but there are also variations with offal, mutton, and water buffalo meat. Pork is seldom used in traditional Indonesian soto, however in Hindu majority Bali, soto babi (pork soto) can be found.[11] The soup is usually accompanied by rice or compressed rice cakes (lontong, ketupat or buras). Offal is considered as a delicacy: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe) and the intestines are all eaten.

Other ingredients of soto include soun alternatively spelled as sohun or bihun (rice vermicelli), mung bean sprouts and scallion. Common soto spices include shallots, garlic, turmeric, galangal, ginger, coriander, salt, candlenut and pepper.

The color, thickness and consistency of soto soup could vary according to each recipes. Soto can have a light and clear broth just like soto bandung, a yellow transparent broth (coloured with turmeric) like the one that can be found in soto ayam, or a rich and thick coconut milk or milk broth just like those in soto kaki or soto betawi.

Soto in Malaysia and Singapore is the clear chicken broth type. Like many dishes, it may have been brought into the country by the many Javanese migrants in the early 20th century.


See also[edit]

  • Soto ayam
  • Konro, Bugis-Makassar spicy cow's ribs soup, similar or related to ribs soto
  • Tongseng, Javanese spicy mutton soup also related to soto
  • Gulai, the Javanese gulai is soupy, similar to mutton or goat soto but slightly different in spices


  1. ^ "Asal Muasal Makanan Soto" (in Indonesian). Yahoo Indonesia. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Windratie (3 December 2014). "Jejak Akulturasi dalam Semangkuk Soto" (in Indonesian). CNN Indonesia. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "A Soto Crawl". Eating Asia. March 21, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Indonesia - Soto Ayam at Malioboro Country". Chowhound. October 29, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  5. ^ Johan Sompotan (January 1, 2012). "Soto Siap Susul Rendang". Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Indonesian Chicken Noodle Soup (Soto Ayam)". September 26, 2006. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Saoto Soup (Surinamese-Javanese)". Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Asal Muasal Makanan Soto" (in Indonesian). Yahoo Indonesia. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  9. ^ Dr. Lono Simatupang, Universitas Gadjah Mada Anthropology
  10. ^ "Resep Soto Tangkar" (in Indonesian). Bango. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Sup Babi ( Pig Soup ), Babi Guling Bu Rai Beras Merah" (in Indonesian). December 5, 2011. Retrieved August 15, 2014.