The story of Sop Merah:
You know how at every family potluck party, there’s a relative who always brings the same dish over and over? Whether that’s been assigned to her or she happened to claim this as her signature dish, my aunt always makes Sop Merah whenever there’s a family dinner gathering. This vividly scarlet soup has been a perennial favorite in our family and everyone, including me, loves it.
I’ve pretty much forgotten about this soup as I hadn’t had it in a long time, until one day my aunt visited me and brought some which she made the night before. This is a special soup for me… read on and you’ll find out why.
People may or may not know that I didn’t grow up with my family (as in, I have not lived with my parents since the age of 7) so snippets of memories associated with my family are few and far between. Common family events such as daily meals, something most people take for granted, did not happen often for me and as such, having Sop Merah during family potluck parties is a pretty special memory filled with fondness for me. I was reminded of this when my aunt came to visit, therefore weeks later I was determined to learn how to make this soup since to me it represents a gathering of loved ones.
As most family recipes go, there isn’t a proper written version with measurements and instructions. Over text messages, my aunt briefly outlined the ingredients that I need along with simple steps, but not exact quantities so I winged it for my first attempt and am happy to report that I nailed it! The flavors and textures were spot-on, the soup tasted just like all the ones I’ve had in my childhood whenever my aunt made it.
This soup begins as chicken stock laced with tomato paste – an umami-packed ingredient – then filled with chopped chicken breast meat, diced ham, carrots, green peas, and mushroom. It is a very hearty soup and the way my aunt makes it, she would add little morsels of pan-fried shrimp meatballs into the soup, making it even fancier. I have included the little shrimp meatballs into the recipe below.
aka Surabaya-style Red Soup
1 cup steamed chicken breast, diced
1 cup steamed carrots, diced
1 cup button mushrooms, diced
1 cup garden peas
1 cup hot sausage, diced
1 cup ham, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
250g fresh prawns (about 8-10 pieces), chopped
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon egg white
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cans chicken broth
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 cup corn starch slurry (1 tablespoon corn starch + 1 cup water)
salt and pepper to taste
- Lightly sauté minced garlic and onion, then add diced chicken breast.
- Add carrots, mushrooms, garden peas, hot sausage, ham.
- Add chicken broth, tomato paste, ketchup, sugar, ground nutmeg and stir to incorporate flavors.
- In a separate bowl, mix together chopped prawns, corn starch, egg white, salt and pepper. Make into tiny morsels and lightly fry in oil, before adding to soup.
- Make a corn starch slurry by mixing together 1 tablespoon corn starch and 1 cup water, slowly add to soup while stirring continuously.
- Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Enjoy and happy eats,