Soto Betawi or Jakarta beef soup, is a revelation. Succulent beef brisket drowns alongside potaotes in a silky smooth coconut broth. With notes of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger; this soup is a flavor blast and a half! And we haven’t even mentioned the toppings yet!
But since we just did, think crispy fried shallots, fresh sweet tomatoes, spicy sambal, and zesty limes. Now get your butt to the grocery store so you can make this dish tonight!Jump to Recipe
“Soto Betawi is a freaking Souper Star”-pun campbell
What is Soto Betawi?
Betawi refers to the native people of Jakarta, and Soto is Indonesian for soup. So Soto Betawi translates to Jakarta Soup. It may sound simple, but don’t sleep on this gem of a dish. This hearty delight sweeps you off your feet with a tantalizing aroma and mouthwatering flavors!
Picture yourself in the bustling streets of Jakarta, an enticing scent fills the air. A symphony of spices dances together in perfect harmony, creating a magical potion that warms your soul.
The star of the show is the tender beef brisket simmered to perfection, bathing in a rich coconut broth. With every spoonful, the creamy coconut milk caresses your taste buds, while undertones of ginger and lemongrass transport you to an exotic paradise.
Soto Betawi is not just a dish, it’s an experience. So if you can’t book a flight to Jakarta, do the next best thing and try out this Soto Betawi recipe!
Check out Migrationology.com for a deep dive on Soto Betawi, a dish you have to eat in Jakarta.
SOTO BETAWI RECIPE – BEEF & COCONUT SOUP
Soto Betawi Ingredients
Here’s a list of the ingredients you’ll need in order to cook this Soto Betawi recipe.
- Beef Brisket: Trim away and extraneous fat and cut your beef into bite sized 1 inch chunks.
- Coconut Milk: Traditional Soto Betawi uses Whole milk along with coconut milk, but we double down with more coconut milk to keep this Soto Betawi recipe dairy free.
- Lemongrass: Trim the ends and use the back of a knife or your mortar to bruise them. This helps release the flavor.
- Bay Leaves & Lime Leaves: Calling all culinary leaves, please report to the dutch oven for immediate flavor enchancment.
- Tamarind Paste: Adds a nice sour zing.
- Potatoes: Russet Potatoes hold up well in a soup like this, but use whatever variety you like. We use purple Japanese yams for this Soto Betawi recipe. Just adjust when you add them because some turn to mush much quicker than others.
- Fresh Ginger: If you can find Galangal fantastic! This will certainly make for a more traditional Soto Betawi, but if you don’t have a good Asian market nearby, it can be hard to find.
- Shallots: The base of the paste you’ll make.
- Macadamia Nuts: Candlenuts are traditionally used to make the paste for Soto Betawi. However, like the Galangal, they can be difficult to source.
- Spices: White pepper, Ground Coriander, & Ground Turmeric
Soto Betawi Toppings and Garnishes
Traditional Soto Betawi is served with Indonesian pickles, lime wedges, and of course sambal. Why stop there? For this recipe we like to add the following garnishes to top off our Soto Betawi.
- Tomatoes: There are tomatoes in the simmered soup, but I like them dice up for a garnish as well.
- Lime Juice & Zest: Season your soto betawi to taste with the lime juice, it makes for a nice bright pop! Zest is optional for folks who really like a citrus zing.
- Acar Pickles: If you have time make some spicy quick pickle with a cucumber, chili pepper, and shallot. Traditionally, Soto Betawi is always served with some spicy pickles. Just whisk together some salt, sugar, vinegar, and oil. Add the pickles to the mixture and let it sit for half an hour or so.
- Sambal Oelek: If it’s an Indonesian dish, then it’s served with a side of sambal. We love to make Sambal Oelek, a spicy pepper relish. Check out our recipe here.
- Rice: Soto Betawi is perfect on its own, but a little steamed rice really makes this Jakarta beef soup into a hearty meal. We prefer Jasmine rice.
How to Make Soto Betawi
Step 1: Brown your Brisket
Pour a couple tablespoons of oil into a large skillet or dutch oven. Add your brisket cubes and brown them. Use tongs or a spatula to make sure you get all sides. Work in batches if you have to.
Once all the meat is browned, add the bruised lemongrass, bay leaves, lime leaves, beef stock, and water. Bring to a boil and then immodestly turn heat down and simmer for an hour.
Step 2: Make Spicy Nut Paste
In a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, combine the shallots, garlic, white pepper, ginger, and macadamia nuts.
Add oil to a skillet over medium heat and then add the paste. Stir the paste frequently until it starts to brown and become fragrant, 7-10mins.
Step 3: Combine & Simmer Some More
After the beef has simmered for an hour, a the coconut milk, tamarind paste, and the spice paste mixture. Stir well to incorporate. Let the mixture simmer for another hour. Taste periodically and season with sea salt and white pepper accordingly.
While you wait, cut the potato into bite sized chunks. Quarter two of the tomatoes and dice the rest. Slice your green onions and make your pickles, if you are.
Step 4: Add Potato & Green Onions
During the final half hour* or so, add your potato’s and green onions to the simmering Soto Betawi. Continue to simmer until the brisket is tender and the mixture has thickened. Continue to season with salt and pepper as needed.
*If using a softer potato like a purple yam, add the potato 15 minutes before finishing.
Step 5: Garnish & Serve Soto Betawi
Ladle the finished Soto Betawi into separate bowls and garnish it with the diced tomatoes, lime wedges, lime zest, pickled cucumbers, and sambal oelek. Enjoy!
How to Make Sambal for Soto Betawi
There’s no shame in going store bought for Sambal, we’ve done it plenty. If thats the route you’re going, we like Runel Sambal, they do a bunch of different sambals.
However, if you have some time and a few ingredients why not take a stab at making your own!?
While there’s thousands of types of sambals, sambal ulek pairs perfectly with Soto Betawi and almost any Indonesian dish for that matter. It’s super easy to make, so stop giving Jeff Bezos your money and go check out our recipe!
How to Store Soto Betawi
Frankie and I love making a big batch of this stuff and freezing half of it for meals down the road. It reheats great and I like knowing I have some meals for Frankie tucked away for when I’m working on the road.
If you don’t have enough leftover soto betawi to freeze, just pop what you got into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for 4-5 days.
To reheat it, use the microwave or slowly bring it to heat in a pot over medium heat.
Soto Betawi FAQ’s
What is the origin of Soto Betawi?
It originated in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is an iconic dish, representing the capital city’s culinary heritage and can be found all over the city.
What is Soto Betawi made of?
It consists of a flavorful coconut broth, tender beef, aromatic spices, and potatoes. It is traditionally served with lime wedges, pickles and sambal.
What is the traditional food from Betawi?
Betawi, the native people of Jakarta, have a rich culinary heritage that includes traditional dishes like, Nasi Uduk, Ketoprak, Kerak Telor, and Asinan Betawi.