Brenebon, Marrying Dutch & Indonesian in a Bowl

Ask any Manadonese about their favorite dish, and I’m sure a lot of them will say that it’s the Brenebon soup. It is one of the yummy marriages of the Dutch and Indonesian cuisines. Brenebon is from the Dutch words bruine (brown) and bonen (beans). It is a soup that mainly consist of red kidney beans and meat. Combined with hot pepper, chili, cloves, and nutmeg, it becomes a warm dish that is so perfect for Winter. It’s my comfort food and I cook it not only in Winter but also at any time I miss my hometown.

The thing that I love about this soup is that it reflects Indonesia as the “Spice Islands”. Cloves and nutmeg are Indonesian native spices. And the taste is rich, far from bland Dutch food 🙂

However, I believe that the culinary influence is reciprocal. So where’s the Dutch influence in this soup? I would say that it’s the beans. I really can’t think of a lot of other Indonesian dishes that use red kidney beans. And I don’t know if it’s accurate, but listed Bruine Bonen Soep as one of the Dutch traditional recipes (recipe is available in the link).

That’s not the version of brenebon in Indonesia, though. Here’s the way we do it in Manado, Indonesia:

Brenebon Recipe


  • 1 can red kidney beans (you can use the dried kidney beans, in the US it’s available in Mexican food section.)
  • 2 tsp nutmeg powder (essential element, you have to use it.)
  • 1 or 2 cloves, or you can also use 2 tsp cloves powder
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 red chilli (or as much as you can tolerate it :))
  • 1 pound (500kg) or 2 or 3 cuts of pork hock. If you want to use beef, use beef shin.
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped scallions and fried shallots, for topping


  1. If you’re using the dried kidney beans, make sure that you soak it overnight first. You can use about 8 oz of dried kidney beans.
  2. Boil the meat for 30 minutes, add salt.
  3. When the meat is done, add the canned red beans. (If I use the dried beans, I would boil it in separate pot first, drain, and combine it with the meat once the beans are tender enough).
  4. Now add all the spices: nutmeg, chili, white pepper, cloves. Add salt to taste.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and fried shallots. Serve warm.

Eet Smakelijk!

3 thoughts on “Brenebon, Marrying Dutch & Indonesian in a Bowl

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