Soup vs Soto in Indonesia: the Differences

Many people in Indonesia think that the difference between Soto and Soup is on its broth. Soup has clearer broth, otherwise, Soto’s broth is thicker due to coconut milk. In fact, this is only applied for a few types of Soto like Soto Betawi and Betawi Soup. There are several kinds of Soto which also have a clear broth such as Soto Bandung, Soto Banjar dan Soto Kudus. Rizky Prasetya from [1] revealed four aspects to distinguish Soto and Soup.

First, the way of cooking. To make soup, all ingredients; spices, vegetables, and the meat, are boiled together. Meanwhile for Soto, the broth and companion ingredients like raw vegetables and boiled egg are separately cooked, which are then served together in one bowl.

Second, the ingredients. Not only people usually use more diverse spices to cook Soto compared to soup, but also only a few vegetables like potato, bean sprout, cabbage, and tomato which are added to Soto, unlike soup that uses more vegetables such as carrot, bean, peas, cabbage, cauliflower and so on.

Third, the flavor’s richness. As Soto contains much more spices than soup, hence the taste of Soto is stronger and savory. Lastly, the side dishes. When serving a portion of Soto, generally the customer will be offered other dishes like fried tempeh, chicken intestine satay, quail egg satay, etc, but they will not find it when ordering a soup.

However, the real differences are still debatable. We found out that the difference is not only on the level of people’s perspectives or opinions, but depending on the Soto’s type, the way it is served could be also different. For example, in Kalimantan, Soto Banjar and Sop Banjar are distinguished only from its carbohydrate source, which Soto Banjar uses Lontong (one of Indonesian’s rice cake types) and Sop Banjar using rice [2]. Another example is Soto Padang and Sop Daging Padang which have the difference only in how they cook the meat, which in Soto it is fried, yet not in Sop Daging [3]. Moreover, in terms of nutrients, Dr. (Cand) Rita Ramayulis, DCN, M.Kes (a nutritionist) added that Soto is a high source of protein as its main ingredient is meat, whilst soup can be a source of micronutrient due to many kinds of vegetables in it [4].

So, what do you think? Which one do you agree with the most? or maybe you have your own perspective? Share with us by comment and share with your friends!

“Thus, what do you think is the original form of Soto? Is this dish derived from Chinese food or Indian food or is it an original local food of Javanese people that spread across the archipelago way before the Independence of Indonesia? Why are there different types of Soto in Indonesia? And how colonialism affected the growing popularity of Soto in the archipelago of Indonesia before it was Indonesia?