The Clever Reason Malaysian ABC Soup Got Its Name

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This simple chicken and vegetable soup is a popular dish in Malaysia, Singapore, and other regions across Southeast Asia. It’s an old reliable stronghold meal for remedying illnesses and feeding hungry bellies during times of scarcity. Recipes tend to vary, with each family having their own version, and Malaysian families often teach it to their children when they’re learning to cook for the first time.

Bone-in raw whole chicken carcasses are a common fixture in Malaysian markets, making for a flavorful, rich ingredient as the bone marrow diffuses into the soup. To translate this crave-able profile to ingredients that are more widely available in the Western market, U.S. home cooks can make their Malaysian ABC soup using a mix of meaty, bone-in chicken pieces and chicken bones. To make a vegetarian-friendly version, swap the chicken for coconut water.

ABC soup is wildly customizable. Feel free to add in whatever complementary soup-friendly ingredients you happen to have on hand, like white peppercorns, Chinese celery, scallions, cilantro, tofu, broccoli, ginger, or segmented sweetcorn on the cob. Yellow or Russet potatoes are ideal soup potatoes for their medium starchiness, and some folks add extra onion and a whole head of garlic for sharper umami flair.

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