Saoto Soup (Surinamese-Javanese)

It’s New Year’s Eve (already) when I start this post and because I didn’t get a chance to post for the Christmas holidays, I was determined to write something on the last day of 2008. It’s been a heck of a year that seemed to fly by like a whirlwind! So this post did not get finished until today.

Saoto Soup with boiled egg
Saoto Soup with boiled egg

Saoto soup originated as a Javanese dish, but since Suriname is a melting pot of many ethnicities, there are various ways to prepare this soup. It is also known as “Blauwgrond Soup” because it is sold in an area of Suriname, where people would go late at night on the weekends to get an after-party or movie snack or meal. The recipe below is the one I learned from my mom (who is from Javanese origin), but feel free to improvise to your own taste.


± 3 liter water
600 gr chicken (1/2 chicken)
5 slices galanga root (laos)
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 onion (cut in half over the length)
1 stalk lemon grass (sereh)
1 Indonesian bay leaf (duon salam)
2 large bouillon cubes
5 pc whole allspice
1 tsp black and/or white pepper

To garnish the soup:

6 hard boiled eggs
300 gr beansprouts (taugé)
2 cups shredded cabage
1 small can friend string potatoes
1 small pack bean thread vermicelli, fried) (soe-on)
fried onions and garlic
3 cups of cooked shredded chicken breast
1 stalk celery & parsley (chopped)
1 pepper (habanero or scotch bonnet)
1 clove garlic
5 tbsp soy sauce, salted (for sambal ketjap, spicy soy sauce)


Soup. Boil the water in a large pot. Cut the chicken in large pieces, rinse and add to the water. Add the galanga, garlic, onion, lemon grass, Indonesian bay leaf, bouillon cubes, pepper and allspice. Remove the chicken after 30 minutes and let the soup cook for another hour on low heat. Add more bouillon or salt to taste.

Once the chicken has cooled off, shred the meat with your fingers or use forks (no chopper). Peel the eggs, rinse and clean the beansprouts. Fry the vermicelli, onion and garlic separately in hot oil. Keep all these ingredients in separate bowls.

Sambal ketjap (spicy soy sauce). Boil the whole pepper for a short time in the soup, scoop it out and chop it with the garlic before adding some sugar and soy sauce.

Serving the soup. In each soup bowl, add one boiled egg, some beansprouts, cabage, fried potatoes, onion/garlic, chicken, topped by vermicelli. Pour the hot soup on top and add celery/parsley. If you like to make it spicy, add some sambal ketjap.


  • Saoto soup can be consumed as an appetizer or as the main dish by serving with a bowl of steamed rice.
  • Even though Saoto has many ingredients, some of those could be left out if preferred.
  • Part of the preparation can also be done a day or two in advance.

Enjoy… or … Selamet makan!

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12 thoughts on “Saoto Soup (Surinamese-Javanese)

  • 12 July, 2009 at 6:17 pm
    Where do you get Madame Jeannette here? We love it and eat this like parrots. And I cook the salem leave in the soup too.
  • 14 July, 2009 at 11:26 am
    Unfortunately we have not been able to find Madame Jeannette peppers in the USA yet, at least not for sale. It could probably grow in south Florida, but only people from Suriname or Holland would know it because it's very typical in Suriname.
  • 10 May, 2010 at 11:40 am
    Best Soup Recipe Ever. OMA SANI is my hero!!! So are you, Mom! : )
  • 13 May, 2010 at 9:05 am
    Good luck with your Saoto Gabi!
  • 18 October, 2010 at 7:10 pm
    I am in the DC, VA area and you can fine the Madame Jeannette peppers in every local supermarket they do have a different name and used by the hispanic/latin community. Layla
  • 19 October, 2010 at 10:12 am
    Hi Layla, do you know what the name of the pepper is? Maybe I can find it in the local hispanic grocery stores. Almost wished I lived in DC ... :) Thanks for your comment!
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  • 27 March, 2016 at 7:36 am
    What spices used in masala, for Suriname roti n chicken curry
  • 11 May, 2016 at 8:45 pm
    Colleen, some of the spices in masala are: coriander, cumin, black pepper, cloves and turmeric. Most people use their own recipe or buy from the store.
  • 31 October, 2016 at 8:48 am
    Thank you for posting this recipe! We were introduced to Saoto and Roti met Kip in Suriname in 1983, when we first began living there. Our family LOVES Saoto, and the longer we're out of country, the more frequently I make it. Each time we return to Suriname, I bring back many of the spices. I'm so happy we have most of the herbs and spices available in several Asian Grocery Markets here, in southern Idaho! I so appreciate you posting the authentic recipe. It makes it so quick to share since friends and family are asking for it more and more.
  • 5 November, 2016 at 5:47 pm
    Hi Sylvia, I'm so happy you found the recipe useful. It has a lot of ingredients when you look at the list, but it's worth every bite right? I also bring some of the ingredients and spices back from Suriname, but like you found the majority in local Asian stores. My daughters-in-law who are not from Suriname, absolutely love saoto and frequently look up the recipe. The family likes it so much, they made it a mandatory part of New Year's Eve :) Thanks for commenting and if you ever have a question or would like to share your recipes, please let me know.

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