Indonesia's chicken soup is tailor-made to taste, with a freewheeling style that's uniquely hospitable ― and distinctive. Guests select the fillings for their own bowls, from an expansive array of readily available and quickly assembled ingredients: shredded chicken, transparent noodles, tender rice, crisp bean sprouts, fiery chilies, crunchy cabbage, even potato chips. Then hot broth (soto) is ladled over all, warming the room-temperature fillings, which in turn fill the aromatic liquid with contrasting flavors and textures.
Each soup is truly a meal in a bowl. And the array of condiments gathered on a tray are party decorations in themselves. To complete an easily organized menu, start with vegetables to dip in a purchased peanut sauce and serve tropical fruit for dessert. Iced tea, fruit juice, or beer go down well with either soup.