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Saoto Ajam

Serves 6

The secret to this wonderfully fragrant and fresh tasting soup is to start with a whole chicken. The skin and bones add richness, flavour and body to the stock, while the gently poached meat remains tender and juicy.



  • Chicken 1 whole, giblets removed
  • Water 8 cups
  • Lemongrass 2 stalks, bruised
  • Garlic 4 cloves, bruised
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves 3
  • Ginger 1” knob, bruised
  • Black Peppercorns 1 Tbs
  • Bay Leaves 2
  • Salt 2 tsp


  • Ground Coriander 3 Tbs
  • Ground Cumin 1 tsp
  • Black Peppercorns 1 tsp
  • Ground Turmeric 1 tsp
  • Vegetable Oil 1 Tbs
  • Garlic 1 clove, crushed
  • Ginger 1” knob, grated
  • Bay Leaf 1
  • Lemongrass 1 stalk, bruised
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves 3
  • Salt 1 tsp
  • Lime Juice from 2 limes


  • Sliced Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Fried Shallots
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves
  • Kecap Manis

Cook It

  1. Place the chicken and all other stock ingredients into a large pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, covered for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken from the stock and place it in a roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool.
  3. When the chicken is cool, strip off the meat and reserve.  Don’t worry if some of the chicken meat is still pink, it will be cooked again when you make the soup.  Return the skin, bones and any accumulated juices to the stockpot and bring back to a lively simmer. Cook, covered, for another 30 minutes, then strain the stock and discard the solids.
  4. In a small heated skillet, toast the coriander, cumin, peppercorns and turmeric for about 30 seconds, stirring, until fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until softened and fragrant.
  6. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, lemongrass, lime leaves, toasted spices and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  7. Add the shredded chicken and simmer for 5 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and add the lime juice. Serve the soup in individual bowls with the garnishes, or bring the soup and toppings to the table and allow guests to customize their own bowl of saoto.