This is a version of the classic chicken soup, soto ayam, with the notable addition of coconut milk and some more heat.

Indonesian cuisine reflects the diverse cultures that inhabit the nearly unfathomable 6,000 islands that compose this archipelago…a gastronomy long influenced by indigenous regional techniques and ingredients commingled with a potpourri of foreign influences which were introduced by the spice trade. Wafting throughout this string of isles are the aromas of India, the Middle East, China and Europe.


1 free range, organic chicken, cut into quarters
3 stalks fresh lemon grass, bruised and tied in a bundle
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 – 14 oz can, coconut milk
1 qt water
1 qt chicken stock
Sea salt

2 t black peppercorns
1 1/2 T coriander seeds
2 t cumin seeds
5 fresh shallots, peeled and quartered
3 plump, fresh cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 1/2 T ground turmeric
2 T ginger, peeled and finely minced
Lime juice

3 T peanut oil
16 oz vermicelli rice noodles (glass noodles)
1 T fresh lime juice

2 limes, cut into wedges
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges
4 green onions, chopped
2 chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
4 T chopped mint, basil and cilantro leaves
Chili paste, such as sambal

Place chicken in a medium heavy pot or Dutch oven with lemon grass, lime leaves, cocnut milk, stock, water and salt. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes, skimming as needed to make a clear broth. Remove chicken pieces from broth and set aside. Remove and discard lemon grass and lime leaves; reserve stock in pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, combine peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small coffee grind or spice mill to create a paste. Pulse on and off until ground. Add shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger and pulse to a thick paste. (Add some water and/or lime juice if needed for moisture.)

Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add spice paste and cook, stirring until paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 5 minutes.

Add cooked spice paste and chicken meat to stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Divide noodles in large soup bowls. Arrange chicken pieces on top along with chopped green onions and sliced peppers; ladle the chicken broth over the chicken and noodles. Serve hot with lime wedges, hard boiled eggs and sprinkle with mint, basil, cilantro and chili paste.