Delicious, flavorful, and creamy Soto Betawi or Jakarta-style slow-cooked beef soup that will remind you of the authentic taste in Jakarta. Serve hot with a bowl of steamed rice for a comforting lunch or dinner.
Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is indeed home to many culinary delights. The city is packed with delicious food and you can easily find any dish from other regions in Jakarta. But for those who are looking for authentic cuisine from the city itself, you should try out Soto Betawi.
What is Soto Betawi?
“Soto” means Indonesian traditional soup and “Betawi” is the ethnic group native to Jakarta. Therefore, Soto Betawi literally means Jakarta-style soup.
Soto Betawi is a beef soup consisting of chunks of meat and beef organs that are slowly simmered in an aromatic milky broth. The broth uses a mixture of coconut milk and whole milk, which is enriched with various spices and herbs. The rich and creamy broth is the signature of the dish and differentiates it from other soto in Indonesia.
When served, tomatoes, fried potatoes, emping/melinjo crackers, and sliced green onion are added to the soup for a hearty meal. Serve the soup hot with a plate of steamed white rice. Squeeze lime juice over the soup to add a little bit of tanginess, sweet soy sauce for extra sweetness, or pickled acar on the side if preferred.
Why You Will Love Soto Betawi
- Rich and flavorful soup. The broth gets amazing flavor from the spices and herbs.
- Tender beef. Slow-cooking the beef for a long time makes the beef super tender.
- Contrasting flavors and textures. The beef soup tastes aromatic and creamy. Tomatoes, fried potatoes, emping/melinjo crackers, and sliced green onion are added as the toppings to the soup. The tomatoes add crunchiness and freshness, the potatoes add creaminess, emping crackers add crunchiness and bitterness, and the green onion adds sharpness. You can also squeeze lime juice over the soup for tanginess and freshness as well as sweet soy sauce to add sweetness if preferred.
Ingredients You Need
- Beef. You want to choose tougher beef cuts that are highly suitable for stewing or braising. The long, slow cooking time helps develop the soup flavor and turn the tough meat tender. The most common beef cuts used to cook soto are beef chuck and beef shank. You can also add some beef offals or organs if preferred.
- Whole milk. To give the soup body and richness. If you prefer lighter soup, use whole milk only.
- Coconut cream. To add creaminess and richness. If you prefer heavier soup, add more coconut cream to the soup.
- Garlic. For aromatic flavor and aroma.
- Shallots. Shallots used in Southeast Asian cuisine tend to be small with a red exterior and white interior. Unlike western shallots which tend to be larger, Indonesian shallots are small and sweeter in flavor. The individual cloves resemble garlic cloves with pointed tapered ends.
- Candlenuts. The high content of oil in candlenuts contributes to making the dish thicker, creamier, nuttier, and slightly oilier
- Ginger. It gives a slightly warm, sweet aroma and a hot, biting flavor to the dish.
- Galangal. Galangal has a similar appearance to ginger but has a different aroma and color. It tastes spicy and peppery.
- Coriander seeds. These seeds fall into the warm/sweet spice category, with a mild citrusy and woody flavor.
- Whole white pepper. White pepper has a gentler, less forward, and earthy taste, whereas black pepper has a much more noticeable and spicy flavor
- Cumin. Rich and hearty, earthy and warm, with an edge of citrus, cumin adds instant depth to any dish.
- Salam leaves. Salam leaves are often called Indonesian or Indian bay leaves. However, salam leaves are totally different from bay leaves as they are from an unrelated family of plants. They smell distinguishably different. Therefore, I suggest you skip salam leaves if you can’t get hold of it.
- Kaffir lime leaves. They are used to add earthy citrus flavors to the food and help remove the meat odor.
- Lemongrass. Gives a citrus-like aroma to the dish.
- Green onion. Use the white part of the green onion to add flavor to the broth. Thinly slice the green part to give the dish a finishing touch.
- Cinnamon stick. To add a subtle sweet, warm, and woody flavor to the soup.
- White cardamom. The reddish-brown seeds inside have a citrusy, floral aroma, and they impart a warm flavor with notes of lemon and mint.
- Cloves. Cloves are quite strong in aroma and flavor. Incredibly aromatic and intensely warm cloves add depth to the dish.
- Star anise. It adds a sweet-licorice-peppery flavor. Use only a little or the flavor will be overwhelming. You can omit it if you don’t have it.
- Vegetable oil. Use neutral-flavored vegetable oils. Do not use olive oil.
- Seasonings. Salt, sugar, beef stock powder.
How to Make Soto Betawi
- Blend garlic cloves, shallots, candlenuts, ginger, galangal, coriander seeds, whole white pepper, cumin, and vegetable oil until smooth into a paste.
- Stir fry the spice paste on low heat. Add salam leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and the white part of green onion. Stir fry until the paste is cooked.
- Add beef, salt, sugar, and beef stock powder and stir until the beef is covered with the seasonings and spices.
- Add cinnamon stick, white cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, and water. Turn the heat to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium heat and simmer until the beef is tender for about 45-60 minutes.
- Once the beef is tender, add milk and coconut cream. Bring to a boil.
- Add the beef soup into a serving bowl and add accompaniments.
What To Serve with Soto Betawi
Soto Betawi is not complete without its accompaniments. Add some of these to make this beef soup a hearty meal!
- Fried potato cubes. Add different textures and flavors to the soup.
- Diced tomatoes. Add freshness.
- Thinly sliced green onions. Add sharpness.
- Emping/melinjo crackers. You can use any crackers but emping is more commonly used for Soto Betawi. It tastes slightly bitter and adds more texture to the soup.
- Limes. Squeeze a little bit of lime juice over the soup if you prefer it a little tangy.
- Fried shallots. Add oniony aroma and flavor to the dish.
- Sweet soy sauce. To add sweetness to the soup.
- Sambal soto. If you want to add spiciness to the soup.
- Pickled acar. It is refreshing, sweet, tangy, and crunchy. It is a great palate cleanser to neutralize the strong flavor and oily foods.