"Soto" is a soup that is eaten with rice and condiments such as; fried shallots, bean sprouts, chopped celery leaves, glass noodles, chilli vinegrette sauce and many other relishes depending on which region the soto comes from. There are numerous kinds of soto spanning from across the archipelago, each having it's own distinct flavor and identity.
This is "Soto Solo" which comes from the city of Surakarta (more familiarly known as Solo) a quaint city in Central Java. The base of the broth is beef which is cooked whole with fresh lemon grass, kafir lime leaves and bay leaves and don't forget to always skim all the fat and residue that comes from making a broth. I would say almost all Indonesian cooking uses fresh herbs and spices and the spices used here are; ginger, garlic, coriander seeds, shallots. This is grinded in a mortar with salt until it becomes a fine paste and then sauteed with a little bit of vegetable oil until it is softened and the room is filled with this wonderful aroma before putting in the broth that is already simmering over low heat. When the beef is cooked, dice it into small bite sized cubes and place it back in the broth and continue the simmering process until the beef is really tender.
At this stage you add a bunch of star fruit. There are two kinds of star fruit; one kind is large and when ripe it is sweet and juicy. The other is small, like the size of a giant thumb - this is the kind that is used for cooking. It tastes like sour green tomatos but even more sour. It is the latter that is used for this soto. Continue to simmer in low heat allowing the star fruit flavor to infuse in the broth for about an hour and add chopped scallions towards the end of this process. Serve with hot rice and condiments of you your choice - normally for Soto Solo, the condiments used are just crispy fried shallots, chopped celery and fresh bean sprouts. And always a fresh chilli vinegrette sauce on the side for those who like it spicy.
Soto Solo is probably one of my favorite "sotos" because it is so invigorating, every spoonful gives you a burst of flavor that is so beyond words...
It's really not as complicated to make as it seems,