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Chicken Tinola

Among the first recipes I've featured here is Tinolang Tahong (Mussels Soup), I am sharing with you Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola). Are you wondering what "Tinola" is??? Well, Tinola is an authentic Filipino dish, which is a ginger based soup that can be cooked with either meat or seafood. Though "tinola" is more famous with manok(chicken) as the main ingredient, many Filipinos also use baboy(pork), isda (fish) and tahong(mussels). In Luzon provinces though, fish in ginger based soup is commonly known as pesang isda, but in Visayas and Mindanao, it is called tinolang isda. Are you enjoying your tinola lesson??? Let me go a little further...

Tinolang Manok, being the famous version of tinola was even referenced in Chapter 3 of Jose Rizal's book, Noli Me Tangere where Capitan Tiago ordered the said dish after he missed eating it for a long time when he extended his stay in Europe. Manok in tinola is best complimented with green papaya wedges and chili pepper leaves. I remember how I love Chicken Tinola when I was young. My mom used to cook it a lot and most of the time, she used home-raised native chicken instead of broiler chicken. This type of chicken has a stronger taste and tougher meat and has to be cooked for a longer time. But I'm telling you, it is a lot flavorful compared to commercially raised chicken! 

Here in Texas where papaya and chili leaves aren't usually available, I've learned to use different substitutes for them. Sayote (pear squash) is the best substitute for papaya and during times when even sayote is unavailable, potatoes will do. For the chili leaves, greens like bok choy, spinach and napa cabbage will be good...but I must say that nothing compares to the flavor that chili pepper leaves add to tinola.
Just like  Tinolang Tahong, this dish is best served during cold and rainy weather. But I love soup and whether it's spring, summer, fall or winter, I find it so comforting! Check out this Filipino favorite dish and let me know what you think...

  • 2 lbs. chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 medium sized green papaya, peeled, seed removed and cut into wedges
  • 1 bundle spinach, wash and trimmed
  •  4 heads baby bokchoy, washed and trimmed
  • 2 thumb-sized ginger, crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion, sliced
  • 6 gloves garlic, chopped,
  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 Tbsp pure olive oil, for sauteing
  • 5 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic, onion and ginger in olive oil until garlic is light brown.
3. Add chicken and saute until juice starts to come out. 
4. Add water and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 15 minutes. 
5. Add papaya and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. 
6. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Add spinach and baby bok choy. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. 
7. Serve hot with steamed rice!


  1. Yum!!! I love Tinola! My friends cook it about once every 2 weeks or so and I'm always inviting myself over when they do :) We also have a similar dish in my culture called Caldo. Nothing is better than a classic chicken and broth soup...delish!

  2. Looks delicious! Reminds me of the tinola my mom used to make!

  3. Oh, boy, this looks wonderful...I adore all the I think I must be a fan of Tinola :)

  4. I love that you used green papaya on this dish. Well, sometimes I use chayote if papaya is not available. Your recipe is sooo original Pinoy, Tina which I really like.

    ~ ray ~

  5. We used to make green papaya curries, stirfry and stew. this one looks awesome.

  6. My fav soup and I love soup too. Nice veges inside making it a complete meal.

  7. Mmmm what a hearty soup!!! I love it! It must taste so good with that ginger! :-)))

  8. Mmm..I can imagine that this soup tastes and smells amazing!

  9. Great dish.I love your effort to follow everything step by step.That makes it so much easier to recreate the dish:) Thank you

  10. Beautiful, healthy and comforting at the same time. Great job Tina, your dish sound incredibly tasty!

  11. Love baby bok choy, I have a similar recipe and yours sounds delicious. Thanks for the share.

  12. wow, this looks incredible. Perfect for this "cooler" weather we are supposed to be getting here soon!

  13. This looks great and yummy! ;D
    I cooked the green papaya soup a few times but with pork ribs thou (we used pork ribs for soup most of the time) and I didn't add any veggies so I can say it's quite a bland but light soup. Here that you used chicken and added veggies really makes a huge difference! Maybe I should try your recipe and who knows, my gals may prefer this!? ;D

  14. Mmmm! A ginger based soup. That just sounds like heaven. And with the papaya too! I would love a bowl full of this!

  15. What a nice comfort dish. It's getting colder at night and this will make me happy for sure. Yummy!

  16. nice.. so informative.. thanks for sharing your recipe.. it's so helpful.. ;)

  17. thanks for including the pics of the ingredients and steps! This was a great tinola recipe