• (Alan Benson)

Rich and fragrant, this Indonesian chicken soup is a much-loved classic. It's a recipe that brings people together. Place the broth in the middle of the table surrounded by the condiments and let your guests serve their soup to suit their own tastes.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (244 votes)


  • 1.2 kg chicken
  • 8 French shallots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • 8 cm x 2 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped, white and green parts separated
  • salt and pepper
  • 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk (optional)
  • 150 g mung bean vermicelli (see Note)

To serve

  • steamed rice
  • 100 g beansprouts
  • 2 tbsp deep fried shallots
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • sambal oelek (see Note)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Cooling time 20 minutes

Place the chicken in a large stock pot with half each of the shallots, lemongrass and ginger, and 2 garlic cloves. Cover with 3 litres cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 50 minutes, skimming the surface regularly. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the stock for 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Strain and reserve the stock, discarding the solids. When cool enough to handle, roughly shred the chicken and set aside.

Place the remaining shallot, ginger and garlic in the bowl of a food processor along with the turmeric, coriander and 1 tablespoon oil, and process until a paste forms.

Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the paste and remaining lemongrass stalk and cook for 5–6 minutes until the paste looses its raw smell. Pour in the reserved chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the tomato and white part of the spring onion, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and coconut milk, if using, return to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Season to taste.

Meanwhile, cook mung bean vermicelli in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Transfer the chicken soup to a serving dish and place in the centre of the table. Place all remaining ingredients in separate bowls on the table. To serve, add some rice to a bowl, top with vermicelli and bean sprouts. Ladle some chicken and soup over the rice and top with deep-fried shallots and the green part of the spring onion. Squeeze over lime juice and serve sambal oelek to the side.


• Mung bean vermicelli are clear noodles made from vegetable starch. You can buy them from Asian grocers. If unavailable substitute with rice vermicelli.
• Sambal oelek is a fiery Indonesian chilli paste available from Asian grocers and select supermarkets.


Photography by Alan Benson