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Our friends at Catholic Relief Services share a meatless recipe from Indonesia: a traditional sour soup. Download our printable recipe card!

Sayur Asem is a traditional Indonesian sour soup known for its sweet and sour flavor. Sayur means vegetables, and asem refers to tamarind, which is the key ingredient that gives the dish its distinctive tangy taste. The dish is typically served with steamed rice.

To learn more about Lenten almsgiving, visit CRSRiceBowl.org. 

Sayur Asem

Start to finish: 45 minutes 

Servings: 4-5 

  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube 
  • 2 shallots, sliced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 
  • 1 red chili pepper, seeded and diced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 1 chayote squash or zucchini, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans 
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn 
  • 1 cup fresh spinach 
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste or lemon juice 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add water and vegetable bouillon.  

In a food processor, blend shallots, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, salt and 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts.  

Add mixture to the pot of water, along with the brown sugar and remaining peanuts. Stir to combine and cook for 15 minutes. 

Add the chayote or zucchini, green beans, corn and spinach. Increase heat to high and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in tamarind or lemon juice just before serving. 


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