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Mar 10, 2024

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup)

Soto Ayam is an Indonesian chicken noodle soup made with a bright, citrusy, and gingery broth as its base.  

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup) in a bowl with garnishes.

Soto Ayam begins with a broth of turmeric, lemon grass, ginger, onions, and garlic in which you poach a whole chicken along with aromatics such as coriander, cumin, and pepper. 

Once you've poached the chicken, you slice it into bite-sized pieces and serve it with the amazing broth along with rice noodles, a hard or soft-boiled egg, and lots of garnishes, such as bean sprouts, celery leaves, napa cabbage, cilantro, and chiles. 

It's the perfect soup for when you're feeling under the weather. 

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup) in a bowl with garnishes.

The unique chicken, turmeric, and citrus-y broth is so refreshing, and the combination of the broth, chicken, and noodles is pure comfort food. 

Ingredients in Soto Ayam:

For the broth, you will need a whole chicken, sweet onions, a head of garlic, ginger, a lemon grass stalk, and celery. 

For the aromatics, you will also need coriander seeds, black peppercorns, and turmeric. 

Additional ingredients include sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. 

A specialty ingredient, if you can find it, is makrut lime leaves. They are sold either fresh or frozen, typically in Asian grocery stores. I couldn't find them, so I substituted lime zest and halved limes in the broth. 

Some soto ayam recipes also include coconut milk in the broth, along with a paste made with candlenuts (you can sub cashews or macadamia nuts). I skipped this ingredient. If you try it, let me know! 

Soto Ayem Chicken in a Pot.

You will also need rice noodles (vermicelli). You can either use the dried version or fresh vermicelli. I found a package of fresh noodles in my local Viet grocery store. They still require boiling, but only for 10 seconds!

The dried noodles can be cooked by submerging them in very hot tap water for about ten minutes, and then draining before adding them to the bowls. 

Fresh rice noodles in the bag.

These noodles are great for making pho too. 

To garnish the soup, you will need some greens, bean sprouts, chiles, and a hard or medium boiled egg. I served this soup with some chopped napa cabbage, scallions, celery leaves, Thai chiles, and cilantro leaves. 

You can also serve a few lime wedges to add even more citrus-y flavor. 

All of these fresh ingredients pair so well with the hot soup. 

Soto Ayem herbs on a cutting board.

To Make the Soup:

First, place a whole chicken in an 8 quart pot and cover it with water. Bring it to a boil and boil the chicken for just six minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, dump out the water, and then clean the pot. 

Place the chicken back into the pot and cover it again with water. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, salt, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, lime zest and halves, lemongrass stalk, celery stalk, fish sauce, sugar, and turmeric. 

Simmer the chicken for about an hour and then remove it from the pot. 

Soto Ayem Whole Chicken on a cutting board after cooking.

You'll end up with a very yellow chicken from all of the turmeric!

What's interesting is that the chicken meat itself doesn't become yellow. Just the skin, which you peel of when you chop the chiken meat. 

While letting the chicken cool enough to chop, simmer the broth for an additional 20 minutes and then strain it and add more lime juice. 

To Serve the Soup:

Arrange the noodles, chicken pieces, some bean sprouts, and two hard-boiled egg halves in a bowl. 

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup) ingredients in a bowl.

Pour the broth into the bowl and garnish with your favorite garnishes such as celery leaves, cilantro, napa cabbage, fried onions, and Thai chiles.

You can also add some condiments such as sambal oelek (a chili paste) and ketjap manis (an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, which I adore. Sweeter than traditional soy sauce, but not overly sweet). 

You can also add some fried onions or shallots. 

Soto Ayem Condiments.


You can make the broth and chicken in advance and store them separately in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve the soup, prepare the noodles, reheat the broth, and serve everything for self-assembly, giving everyone to add whatever condiments and additions they want. 

More Noodle Soups you May Enjoy:

Turkey Noodle Soup

Five Spice Turkey Noodle Soup

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Shrimp and Pork Meatball Noodle Soup

More Indonesian Recipes from the Sunday Funday group:

Soto Ayem bowl with chicken, bean sprouts, and noodles in a bowl.

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Soto Ayam (Indonesian-Style Chicken Noodle Soup
Yield: 6 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 1 H & 30 MTotal time: 2 Hour
Soto Ayam is an Indonesian chicken noodle soup made with a bright, citrusy, and gingery broth as its base.


For the Soup
  • 4 pound whole chicken
  • 2 medium sweet onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 whole garlic head, halved crosswise
  • 3-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (Crystal Diamond) or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Zest of one lime, plus the same lime, halved
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into sections and halved lengthwise
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • Juice from one lime
  • 10 ounces rice vermicelli noodles, prepared according to the package instructions
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, halved
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 4 Thai chiles, minced
Add-Ins and Condiments
  • Celery leaves
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Sambal Oelek
  • Ketjap Manis


  1. In an 8-quart pot, cover the whole chicken with water and bring it to a bowl. Boil for 6 minutes. Remove the chicken and set it aside. Clean out the pot.
  2. Place the chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, lime zest, lime halves, lemongrass, celery pieces, fish sauce, sugar, and turmeric into the pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for an hour.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate and let rest for 20 minutes while the broth continues to simmer.
  4. Pull the chicken off of the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Strain the broth to remove the solids and add the lime juice.
  5. Check the broth for flavor and season as necessary.
  6. Divide the noodles, bean sprouts, and chicken among six bowls. Pour the hot chicken broth over the noodles, sprouts, eggs, and chicken. Add the scallions and chiles to taste.
  7. Garnish with the celery leaves, cilantro leaves, and cabbage. Serve with the sambal oelek and ketjap manis to taste.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

28 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

8 g

Carbs (grams)

33 g

Fiber (grams)

4 g

Net carbs

29 g

Sugar (grams)

13 g

Protein (grams)

37 g

Cholesterol (grams)

295 mg
chicken, noodles
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Recipe adapted mostly from Dutch Feast by Emily Wight. It's a wonderful cookbook with a section devoted to Indonesian inspired recipes. 


Would you like to comment?

  1. OH MY YUM.....we have snow here again today and this soup is screaming for me.

  2. This sounds and looks amazing! I love all of the flavors and the green is so pretty and inviting!

  3. This soup sounds so flavorful! I've certainly never had anything like it, which makes it a big plus because I'm always up for a cooking adventure.

    1. It's definitely a production, but worth it!

  4. This looks yummy! I love rice noodles and it would really warm me up as it turned eally chilly today again!

  5. I can't wait to give this a try. All of the Indonesian food I have tried so far as has been amazing.


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