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Indonesian Chicken-Peanut Soup

(Soto Ayam)

This earthy and complex soup brings to mind hot tropical suns and perfumed air. It's exotic but pleasantly so--and is a wonderful start to roast pork, broiled fish, or other plain fare. Serve hot as a first course in small bowls to 4-6 people. Selamat makan! (or, "good eating").

Garnish: green onions, sliced lengthwise into thin strips then latticed across the top of each bowl

In a large saucepan, combine the stock, soy sauce, molasses, lemon juice, and garlic. It seems like an awful combination at first, but it mellows together into a savory broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.

Whisk in the peanut butter, then simmer for 5 more minutes.

When ready to serve, stir in the peanuts, chicken, and scallions. Heat through, then ladle into soup bowls and lattice the tops with scallion strips. Serve immediately.