Serve with a side of warm bread for maximum taste. (JG Photo/Petty Elliott)

Sop Bobor: An Indonesian Twist on One of Europe’s Favorite Comfort Foods

MARCH 01, 2015

It seems the wet season is nearly over and the weather is getting warmer. But it is still very comforting to enjoy a bowl of soup, especially after working in air conditioning all day long.

Indonesian cuisine is not well known for its soup dishes. Instead we have a thousand different types of soto, which are basically soupy dishes normally served with rice. 

Most of us are familiar with European-style spinach soup, but many don’t know of sop Bobor

This recipe is made with bayam or amaranth, types of leafy greens from the same family as spinach. Amaranth has totally different taste and texture to European spinach, as well as a higher fiber content. You may use either green or red bayam.

Sop Bobor originates from Central Java. It has an exotic flavor with a touch of coconut, lemon grass, aromatic ginger and kemangi, a local variety of basil. 

It can be quite challenging to make this soup, as it is difficult to find aromatic ginger or kencur overseas. Even without the aromatic ginger, you can still make this delicious spinach soup. 

Traditionally, tempeh, fermented soya cake and labu siam or chayote are added to the dish giving it a different taste and texture. 

Classic sop bobor has a rustic texture without having to put the mixture into blender. 

For this week’s recipe, I have Bobor soup with a modern blending twist to add a soupy texture. 

I also used horenzo, a Japanese variety of spinach, to replace the amaranth. Plenty of shallots also give a nice texture. You may replace the shallots with onion, which is easy to chop. 


Sop Bobor

Spinach Coconut Soup

This is very easy to make and gives many layers of flavors. The coconut flavor has a perfect balance with the lemon grass and basil.

Serves four

120 grams shallots, peeled and chopped finely; 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely; 2 candlenuts (or 30gr macadamia nuts), roasted and ground finely (optional); 7gr fresh ginger, peeled and grated or 1 teaspoon ginger powder; 300gr spinach leaves and young stems; 30gr or a small bunch of basil; 2 stalks of lemongrass, use the white part only, sliced finely; 150 milliliters of coconut milk; 250ml water; salt and black pepper to taste; 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


•Heat a medium saucepan and add the oil.

•Add the chopped shallots and garlic and cook over low heat for five or six minutes, or until soft.

•Add the ginger, lemon grass and candlenut paste and continue to cook for another five minutes over low heat.

•Add 250ml of water and simmer for five minutes, or until the aroma of lemongrass emerges.

•Add the coconut milk and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and taste. Add another touch of salt or black pepper if desired.

•Add the spinach and basil and cook for one minute. Turn the heat off. Transfer the mixture into a blender.

•Process until the mixture is smooth.

•Transfer the soup back into the saucepan and reheat gently. Divide the soup into four serving soup bowls and serve hot.