Filipino soup is characterized by the blend of indigenous ingredients as well as the ingredients adopted from American, Hispanic, Chinese and other Asian cuisines. As Filipino cuisine is famous for perfect amalgamation of sweet, sour and salty flavors, Filipino soups impart all these flavors and depict the true food culture of Philippines.
Some of the popular soups in Filipino cuisine are Sinigang, Tinola and Tamarind soup.
History of Filipino Soups
During pre-Hispanic era the Filipino natives prepared their food mainly by steaming and boiling methods involving a wide range of seafood and livestock. Since then the popularity of soups had grown tremendously in Filipino cuisine.
Some of the most popular savory soup bases include fish sauce. The method of stir-frying the ingredients were the outcome of the early cultural contact of the Filipinos with the Chinese.
The Spanish influence, in Filipino soups was seen by the usage of chili pepper, corn, potatoes and tomato.
Ingredients and Preparation Overview of Filipino Soups
Seafood is the base of the most popularly served Filipino soups due to the presence of various water bodies surrounding the country. A variety of vegetables and meats are often used in soups along with spices, such as chili pepper. However, Filipino soups are not hot and spicy as chili pepper is incorporated in very less amount.
Meat staples that are particularly used to make some hearty soups, are chicken, pork and beef. Greens, such as spinach and cabbage, along with other vegetables, such as beans and carrots, are largely incorporated in Filipino soup dishes.
Coconut is a ubiquitous ingredient in most of the soups served in Filipino cuisine. With Chinese influence, the use of soya sauce and fish sauce has evolved in the Filipino soups. Other flavoring agents like vinegar, tamarind pulp, lime juice, shrimp paste and crushed ginger root are fondly added to enhance the taste of the soups.
The usual method of preparing Filipino soups is boiling the meats, seafood or vegetables in conjunction with flavoring agents and condiments. In a traditional Filipino meal, most of the soups are served with rice and other meat and vegetable dishes.
Popular Filipino Soup Recipes
- Sinigang – The popular sour Filipino soup, is characterized by its tangy tamarind flavor, though other versions may include raw mango, vinegar or calamansi.
- Tinola – Also known as ‘Cebuano’ in some parts of the Philippines, this soup is traditionally prepared with green papaya, chili pepper, ginger, onion, fish sauce and chicken.
- Pancit molo – A traditional Filipino dumpling soup; chicken or vegetable dumplings are prepared separately to be included in hearty chicken/ vegetable soup at the time of serving.
Although there is a huge variety of soups in Filipino cuisine, starting a meal with soup dish is not a native Filipino tradition but a custom borrowed from the Spanish.