Spicy Chicken Soup from Borneo
Soto Banjar

5 shallots, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1-2 Thai chilies or 2-4 jalapeno chilies, seeds removed
a 1/2-inch slice of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tbsp soy sauce or kecap manis (recipe coming)
12 macadamia nuts
7 cups chicken broth or water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/8- by 2-inch-long strips
a 6-inch length of lemongrass, thinly sliced
2 scallions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tamarind paste combined with 6 tbsp boiling water, strained
a 1/4-inch slice of galangal (optional)


Prep like mad. Cooking time for this recipe is minimal, so you really want to make sure you have everything chopped and measured before you start. Then combine the shallots, garlic, spices, chilies, ginger, soy sauce, macadamia nuts, and 1/3 of the broth in a food processor. Process until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a heavy pan, add the chicken and stir for a minute. Add the spice paste and stir for a couple more minutes.

Add the rest of the broth or water, lemongrass, scallions, tamarind, and galangal and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. You may want to strain the broth through a fine mesh seive before serving. Serve hot.

-Splendid Soups, James Peterson