Tinola, Filipino Chicken Soup

December 28, 2012

Author: Karena Higgins

My mom can’t cook. She certainly can’t cook Filipino food. My experiences of Filipino food were through other members of our family or the “Y’ayas” and the “Titas”. The Y’aya is equivalent to the American version of a nanny, except they often stay and transition with the family until they are older. Tita is a term for auntie, although they are not always related. These ladies were in charge of not only the household, but the heart of the home, the kitchen. Their meals were often dishes they had brought with them from the homeland i.e. Adobo and Sinigang. They adjusted certain cooking methods and substituted ingredients when need be. They even learned new recipes, hamburgers and pancakes, but they always had their specialities and we had our favorites. One of my favorites, especially during the chilly months, was and still is chicken Tinola. Tinola is the perfect remedy for a cold or just a cold day. It is fragrant soup served with chicken and chunks of papaya or chayote (I prefer the pear shaped, fruit like plant). Mulunggay leaves are added for its legendary health benefits, along with garlic, onions, ginger and patis aka fish sauce. The broth is full bodied and soothing with a hint of heat. It’s a tasty cure.


2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 onion chopped

4 cloves garlic

4 slices of fresh ginger

4 tablespoons fish sauce

4 chicken wings

2 chicken breasts

3 chayote sliced and cut into pieces

small bunch of spinach

Mulunggay leaves optional

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup chicken broth

8 cups water


Chop chicken breasts and set aside. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat; toss in the onion and cook til translucent. Add ginger in the hot oil until fragrant. Quickly stir the ginger, add garlic. Cook garlic til fragrant and add fish sauce into the onion, garlic mixture. Add chicken wings; brown the skin and cook together for 5 minutes. Add chopped chicken breasts. Pour the chicken broth and water over the mixture and bring to boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chayote to the mixture and simmer, about 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach; cook until spinach is just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Posted in Soups and Stews

Tags: broth, chayote, chicken, chicken breasts, chicken broth, chicken soup, chicken wings, cloves of garlic, cooking oil, Filipino, fish sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, garlic cloves, ginger, mulunggay leaves,oil, onion, pepper, salt, Soup, spinach, water