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Soto Betawi - Jakarta Beef Soup

Authentic and easy soto betawi (Jakarta beef soup) recipe you can make at home that will remind you of the real deal you find in Jakarta.

Soto (traditional Indonesian soup) is widely enjoyed throughout Indonesia and every region has its own specialty soto. In Jakarta, the de facto soto is soto betawi, where it can be found everywhere, from side street food carts, hole-in-a-wall places, food courts in malls, upscale restaurants, all the way to five-star hotels. Each place will have their own way of preparing soto betawi, with a highly guarded blend of secret spices, and each with fierce die-hard fans touting theirs has got be the one offering the most original and most delicious soto betawi.

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian soto betawi (Jakarta beef soup): beef stew cuts, honeycomb tripe, shalots, garlic, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and coconut milk.

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian soto betawi (Jakarta beef soup): beef stew cuts, honeycomb tripe, shalots, garlic, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and coconut milk.

What you need to prepare authentic Indonesian soto betawi

Living half-way across the globe means I need to find an excellent soto betawi recipe that can satisfy me and my hubby love for this soup. I am proud to say that we are extremely happy with this particular recipe. The soup tastes exactly like the one we used to have back in Indonesia.

Here are the ingredients I use for my soto betawi:

  • 1 kilogram beef shank (Indonesian: daging sengkel), or you can use other cuts that are suitable for stew or soup
  • 500 gram honeycomb tripe or other beef entrails like intestines, or increase the amount of beef if you want to omit this
  • 5 lemongrass
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), these are not the same as regular bay leaves, and is best to omit if you don’t have them
  • fresh milk
  • coconut milk
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • galangal
  • candlenuts, can be substituted with an equal amount of macadamia nuts
A bowl of soto betawi - Jakarta beef soup.

A bowl of soto betawi - Jakarta beef soup.

Cooking the soup

Before cooking the soup, the very first thing we do is to prepare the spice paste. You can use a food processor or a blender to do this. If you want a truly smooth paste, please add about 2 tablespoons of water along with all the spices, but it is also okay if the spice paste is not very smooth.

Once the spice paste is ready, you can do the following to cook the soup:

  1. Boil together beef, tripes, lemongrass, daun salam, fresh milk, and spice paste over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until both the meat and tripe are tender. About 2 hours.
  2. Remove the meat and tripe from the pot to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces.
    Optional step: Strain the soup to remove any impurities and scums to get a clear soup, then return the strained soup to the soup pot.
  3. Return the pieces of meat and tripe into the soup pot, add water, coconut milk, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, discard lemongrass and daun salam. Stir in kaffir lime leaves.
Garnishes for soto betawi: emping (melinjo crackers), fried potato cubes, bawang goreng (fried shallots), scallions, freshly squeezed lime juice, diced tomatoes, kecap manis (not shown), and acar (not shown).

Garnishes for soto betawi: emping (melinjo crackers), fried potato cubes, bawang goreng (fried shallots), scallions, freshly squeezed lime juice, diced tomatoes, kecap manis (not shown), and acar (not shown).

What to serve with soto betawi

Soto betawi is never just about the soup. It is not considered complete if you don’t serve the soup with its accompaniments. I usually prepare all of these while the soup is slowly simmering away:

  • make some acar (Indonesian pickle)
  • fry potato cubes
  • fry emping (melinjo crackers)
  • fry shallots (Indonesian: bawang goreng), you can use store-bought too
  • thinly slice some scallions
  • dice a couple of fresh tomatoes
  • cut a couple of limes into slices, so each person can add squeeze some fresh lime juice into the soup to suit their taste

We usually enjoy our soto betawi with some steamed white rice, all the above accompaniments, and a bottle of kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce).

Soto Betawi - Jakarta Beef Soup

Soto Betawi - Jakarta Beef Soup

Originally published on June 19, 2013. Updated on November 27, 2019 with new photos.

Soto Betawi - Jakarta Beef Soup


5.0 from 8 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 2 hours 30 mins

Total Time: 3 hours

Serves: 8 to 12

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Boil together beef shank, honeycomb tripe, lemongrass, daun salam(Indonesian bay leaves), milk, and spice paste over medium high heat in a soup pot. Once it reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and continue cooking until the meat and tripe are tender, about 2 hours.
  2. Remove the meat and tripe from the pot to cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces, about 1/2 inch cubes.
  3. Optional step: Strain the soup to remove any impurities and scums to get a clear soup, then return the strained soup to the soup pot.
  4. Return the pieces of meat and tripe into the pot, add water, coconut milk, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat, discard the lemongrass and bay leaves. Stir in kaffir lime leaves.
  6. Serve the soup (soto) in soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with tomato and fried potato cubes, and top with sliced scallions, shallot flakes, and emping. Let each person add as much lime juice and sweet soy sauce to their soup. The soup (soto) is traditionally eaten with steamed white rice and a side of acar.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Ronald G Lau Ronald G Lau says:

    Anita, Drawn to your web site in search of the 'health tonic' soups that my Grandmother always insisted we drink a bowl of before dinner. We were back at her house for dinner on all of the Chinese Buddhist Calendar feast days. It is great to preserve the centrality of the food experience and sense that formed the invisible core of your early family life, which so many of us appreciate retrospectively. Will try my hand at the Chinese Herbal Soup. If you have other variations on this recipe or other soups served as 'health tonics' why not a section of your blog devoted to medicinal foods. It seems that my Grandmother prepared a bitter soup from dried dandelion roots or leaves (tuu gung ung' which was prescribed for general health. There was another that in Cantonese sounded like 'gaw gee tong' which was good for improving the health and sight of the eyes etc. Will also try my hand at Soto Betawi described above. Best, Ron

  • Anindya Anindya says:

    Ummmm... what happen to the spice paste??

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Anindya, in the 1st step, the spice paste is cooked together with beef, lemongrass, bay leaf, and milk. :)

  • Feny Feny says:

    Anita, thank you for recipe! I have tried this one, it was as good as the original one in Indo. This surely satisfied my craving of Soto Betawi while living in Oz.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You are welcome Feny :)

  • Seth Ochieng Seth Ochieng says:

    I fell in love with this dish in Jakarta, sadly I only got to eat it on my last evening in Indonesia. I was sitting at Oh La La Cafe at Jakarta Theatre and asked the waitress to surprise me.....bless her. Mow I can't get the taste of this dish off my mind. Thanks for the recipe Anita, I'm gonna struggle making it....hopefully it will be as delicious.

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Seth, that is such a sweet story to go with the dish :) I hope the recipe will be as delicious as the soto Betawi you have in Jakarta.

  • Paul Paul says:

    So I cannot eat tripe or other offal, nor can my wife. Is there a suggestion for substitutes for the tripe? Thanks in advance!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yes, just substitute with the same amount of beef :)

  • Ruthie Ruthie says:

    I've tried 4 of your recipes since I found your blog, and the food has turned out perfect each time. This Soto Betawi is divine. So many layers of flavor, yet so simple to make. My husband (raised in Jakarta, a picky eater, and doesn't give compliments freely) absolutely loved it! Please keep your recipes coming. I am using your recipes EXCLUSIVELY now when cooking Indonesian foods. Your recipe blog is a godsend for a Jakarta-born Indonesian raised in the USA, who unfortunately gets too confused trying to follow a recipe written in Bahasa. Haha. Thank you, Anita!

    • Anita Anita says:

      You are very welcome Ruthie. You lovely comment makes me so happy :)

  • Jelena Jelena says:

    When boiled, the beef released this foamy gloopy stuff that stuck to everything. What am I doing wrong? Also, the boiled milk turned to looking thin like broth. Is that normal?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Hi Jelena, beef (or any meat) typically releases some scum when boiled. If you want a super clear stock, you can give the meat a quick blanch in a boiling pot of water first for about 5 minutes. I will call this step 0. Then you can proceed with the rest of the recipe. And, yes, the milk will be thin since it is mixed with the stock.

  • Jelena Jelena says:

    First of all, I love your website. Please keep it up! I do have a question though. When I boil beef, it creates this weird foamy, gloopy stuff. Usually I’m able to strain it off the top of the water. Unfortunately because there was already other stuff in the mix for this recipe, the foam stuff just stuck to everything. So sad after so much work. What am I doing wrong?

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thanks for the compliment Jelena. Hm... we will be scooping the beef (and tripe) up at the end of step 2 to cut into bite sizes. You can then strain the stock first to remove all the scum (weird foamy, gloopy stuff) so hopefully you get a clear stock for step 3 onward. There will be lemongrass and other leaves in the strainer, and since we want them in the stock too, just wash them under running water to clean them from the scum, and place them in the strained stock. I hope this helps.

  • Vony Vony says:

    Hi Anita I feel so grateful to find your blog, it's very helpful and very easy to follow, thanks for this recipe I tried to make soto betawi today and it's amazing!

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yay, I'm very happy to hear that Vony. And thank you for trying out my recipes. :)

  • Hannah Healy Hannah Healy says:

    I've never heard of this before, but it looks like a nutritious blend of interesting flavors!

  • Anjali Anjali says:

    I love that your recipes bring together flavors and ingredients that I've never tried before and they always turn out delicious! This recipe is no exception! :)

  • Megan Ellam Megan Ellam says:

    This looks so tasty Anita. I am excited to have a go making the recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You are welcome, Megan. :) I hope you will love it as much as we do. :)

  • Milky Milky says:

    This recipe surprised me- milk AND coconut milk? Fried potatoes? What's goin' on?!? After I think about it a little more, it makes perfect sense for Betawi!
    As usual, I'm cooking with what I've got- I fall back on substituting shallots for red onion because of price (and doing a little taste test, it's passable, though the onion is a bit sharper, as you'd expect) but I did use some shallot to fry. MMM! I had to put a lot of effort to save them for garnish because they are tasty. Same for the potatoes; I made a lot and then used it for some American-style breakfast scrambles, too.
    Anyway, the soup making process had a few snags: for one, I was dealing with a power-out, which was just a nuisance, but at least goes to show how Indonesian dishes can handle any situation! I was also making the acar as well: that might have been better to make the day before, give the flavor time to soak in, and have less kitchen mess going on, hahaha. When I become expert soto-maker, I won't complain about that! One mistake I did make in my haste, was accidentally adding the water in with the milk. I doubted it would effect the flavor, but I felt maybe the milk bath has a tenderizing effect on the meat?
    Anyway, the main thing is that A. all is properly cooked and B. taste is delicious. The meat was soft, and the accompaniments were excellent textures and flavors to add in.I passed on the tripe- I never have it at home. I enjoy a few innards here and there, so next time I'll have to see if the grocery butcher will give me a small portion. I forgot I had gotten a bottle of ABC kecap manis a few months ago, and I was happy to take it on it's maiden voyage of this dish!
    {Something related to that- since I don't have a proper Indonesian pantry, I have often forgone on kecap manis in recipes. I'd been using a quick sugar/soy sauce reduction that I had found online on the occasions that required it. Now that I've got the real deal, I'm realizing that the flavor is a lot more like old-fashioned molasses. I know it's sacrilege- don't kill me- but I'm thinking molasses + soy sauce might work in a pinch. When I have an excuse to open a bottle of molasses I will experiment....}
    My last note: even though I was the only one who ate this, I'm glad a few friends could verify that it looked like the real-deal from the shops in Jakarta, even asking me where my tomatoes were (because I forgot to prep them, lol) I would definitely recommend this recipe to anyone looking to try a soto that's not loaded with chilies hahaha

    • Anita Anita says:

      Thank you for the super detailed review, Milky. It is always so much fun reading your comment. :) As for homemade kecap manis, the "emergency" version is usually regular soy sauce + palm sugar + water, but I'm guessing molasses could also work :)

  • Amanda Wren-Grimwood Amanda Wren-Grimwood says:

    That sounds so delicious. I'm not familiar with Indonesian cuisine but the flavours sound incredible!

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