Chicken Soup - Be comforted, I dare you


This is the Filipino version of chicken soup, Tinolang Manok. But I figured I would put ‘Chicken Soup’ in the title so you know what I am talking about. That, and it doesn't sound so scary.

I remember when I first started cooking, any recipe with a title that wasn't immediately intuitive would get ignored or just not eaten. I thought that if I couldn't translate the title or the title didn't clearly state 'tomatoes with mozzarella, basil and olive oil' (aka caprese salad) then the dish must clearly be a complicated one to make! After cooking for a while though, you quickly learn that this is not the case. In fact, all the best dishes have foreign names or are just named after the people who created Creme Brûlée, Alfredo, Bruschetta, Coq au Vin, Carbonara...


Filipinos traditionally put either bok choy or papaya in Tinolang Manok and serve it with rice. I've never really been a fan of papaya though - I guess it came from all those years of using papaya soap to wash my face instead of putting it in my face. I'm sure if you really wanted, you could pop some noodles and carrots in there instead and then you'll have a more traditional chicken noodle soup.  Either way, the broth is delicious.

My mother always told me that chicken should be cooked with the bone and I have to say there is definitely something in that. You see, half the flavor is in the bone. Seriously! Chicken broth recipes on the Internet are just made up of chicken skin and bones boiled in water for a couple of hours. So if I could impart some knowledge, try cooking the soup with some organic free range chicken thighs or legs (with skin!) because I can promise it will make a difference. If you wanted, you could remove the bones prior to serving. I like to eat like a caveman though so it doesn't matter to me :)

Tinolang Manok / Chicken Soup (serves 4) 

  • 2-3 pounds of bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or legs
  • 3 gloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. pre-crushed garlic from the jar) 
  • 6 cups of water or enough to fully immerse the chicken (If you want a more intense flavor you can use unsalted chicken broth)
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce (patis)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1.5 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 2-3 heads of bok choy, chopped


  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Lightly brown the chicken pieces (approximately 7-8 minutes). Add the garlic, onion and ginger and sauté for 3-4 minutes more or until the onions are translucent.  
  2. Season with salt and pepper and add the fish sauce. Mix well.
  3. Add the bay leaves and pour in the water until the chicken is fully immersed. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes or until the meat is tender.  
  4. Add the bok choy to the broth and simmer on low heat for an extra 5 minutes. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with white rice.