Filipino Soups

Sinigang: a hearty Filipino soup with shrimps and vegetables
Photo by: Roland Tanglao, Creative Commons

Filipino soups, like the rest of the cuisine, are influenced by different cultures owing to the lengthy years under the rule of the Spanish, Americans, and Japanese. But before any of those cultures’ influences came into play, it was through trading with their neighbors from the Northwest – the Chinese – that the Filipinos came upon the practice of creating savory soup bases. Since then Filipino soups have taken a flavor of their own, adapting foreign soups to local ingredients and taste preferences.

Currently, Filipino soups are described as hearty and stew-like owing to the inclusion of large chunks of different kinds of meat, usually seafood, along with pieces of vegetables or noodles. Unlike its Asian neighbors, Filipino soups are meant to be eaten as a meal in themselves usually eaten with rice.

Owing to vast culinary influences, Filipinos have developed different cooking styles resulting to a wide array of soup bases and flavors. Below are some of the commonly prepared soups in Filipino meals.

Sinigang is characterized by a sour taste owing to the tamarind broth from which pieces of pork, beef, chicken, or seafood are cooked. Kangkong or water spinach and slices of radish are also thrown into the mix. Other souring ingredients that can be used in place of tamarind are guava and miso.

Tinola is made from chicken pieces cooked in a ginger-flavored broth along with slices of green papaya, chili, and malunggay leaves.

Nilaga is typically a beef stew mixed with pieces of cabbage and potatoes. A variation of nilaga called bulalo, uses the bone marrow instead of pieces of beef.

Binacol is a regional specialty from the province of Quezon. It is a chicken soup mixed with pieces of coconut meat and coconut water.

One of the most popular noodle dish in the Phillipines, batchoy is a soup thrown in with pork innards, pork cracklings, chopped veggies, noodles, and topped with raw egg.

Mami is a proof of the Chinese’s heavy influence on Filipino cuisine. It is a popular noodle soup with pieces of chicken, beef, or pork along with different kinds of dumplings.

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