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Heartwarming Pinoy Soups To Warm Us Up On Rainy Days

What could be more comforting than a bowl of hot soup? On rainy days especially, we Filipinos love our sabaw. Rich and redolent with fat, cartilage and bones from meat, then made hearty and nutritious with plenty of vegetables, sabaw is an essential part of our daily meals. 

Chef Chris de Jesus of popular Filipino restaurant Provenciano generously shares three regional soup recipes with us, as well as some key guiding principles when making sabaw: (1) the flavor of the soup comes from fat and protein, so be sure to choose meat with the bones and cartilage intact; (2) cook over a low to medium heat slowly, never allowing it to come to a rolling boil, as this will make this soup cloudy and taste burnt; and (3) taste the soup throughout the cooking process, to be able to ascertain if it needs more or less seasoning.


Lomo Lomo

Lomo is the Spanish word for pork tenderloin. According to Chef Chris, the traditional lomo lomo is “a very Ilocano soup dish,” with rendered pork meat, fat, and occasionally innards like liver and even pig’s brains. But this Lomo Lomo is a modified recipe that simply uses pork fat, meat, and stock with ginger.


Serves 4

  • 100 grams pork empelya (fat), sliced                                                 
  • 1/2 kilo pork kasim (shoulder) with fat and skin, thinly sliced                      
  • 2 tablespoons oil from rendered pork                                      
  • 1/4 cup diced onions                                                              
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic                                                                            
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sliced ginger                                                                      
  • 3 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)                                                                                  
  • 4 cups pork stock                                                                               
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper                                                                 
  • 4 whole eggs                                      
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives                                                                        
  • 8 biscocho bread slices or toasted sugar-glazed pandesal   


1. In a pot, place empelya or pork fat with just enough water to partially cover the fat. Cover and cook over medium heat. Wait until pork fat has been completely rendered. Add pork kasim together with rendered pork fat and cook until kasim turns golden brown. Set aside the rendered pork fat or oil and meat.

2. In the same pot, sauté onion, garlic, and ginger in the rendered pork fat or oil, and add kasim. Add patis and pork stock. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until pork is very tender. Season with ground black pepper.

3. In a pan, cook eggs sunny side up. Set aside.

4. Serve soup in a bowl topped with fried egg, chopped chives, and biscocho or toasted pandesal on the side.



Sopas Mais ng Isabela

Chef Chris says, “The combination of the yellow corn and white corn balances out the sweetness of the dish, with the thickness of the soup coming from the starchiness of the white corn.” The addition of sili leaves or malunggay, as well as squash blossoms, lends a nuanced delicacy to the soup as well. Always make sure the corn is fully cooked to keep the texture of the soup from turning grainy. Stir constantly over low heat as well, to keep the corn from sticking to the bottom of the pot.


Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 yellow or sweet corn cobs                           
  • 2 lagkitan cobs (white corn)   
  • 150 grams medium-sized shrimps                  
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil                                                                          
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions                                                                                 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 200 grams pork liempo (belly)                                                            
  • 2 tablespoons patis (fish sauce), or to taste                                                    
  • 4 cups shrimp broth                                                                
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper                                                                 
  • 8 squash blossoms                                                                  
  • 1/2 cup sili leaves                                           


1. Prepare and clean yellow and white corn cobs. Shred both kinds of corn from the cob and set aside.

2. Prepare and clean shrimp. Separate the heads from the bodies of the shrimp. Combine shrimp heads and water, and bring to a boil.

3. In a pot, sauté onions and garlic. Add pork liempo and patis and cook until pork is slightly brown.

4. Add shredded yellow and white corn, then pour in shrimp broth. Boil over low to medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Double check if the corn is already cooked.

5. Add ground black pepper to taste and shrimps. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Add squash blossoms and sili leaves just before serving.


Ginataang Tinola

While the tinola we know usually has a clear broth, this version contains coconut milk. This makes it a much creamier soup, which then balances out the spiciness of the siling mahaba. Once you’ve added the coconut milk, be sure to stir the soup constantly to keep the milk from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot. It’s best to use a native chicken, including its neck and back bones, for its inherently rich flavor and complexity.


Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 kilo whole native chicken, preferably itlogan
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil                                                              
  • 1/4 cup diced onions                                                  
  • 2 tablespoons sliced ginger                                                                            
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic                                                    
  • 3 tablespoons patis (fish sauce)                                                                      
  • 6 cups water                                                               
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, crushed                                                   
  • 1 1/4 cups gata (coconut milk)                                                           
  • 1/4 kilo papaya maniba, semi ripe
  • 1/2 cup sili leaves                                                                   
  • 2 siling mahaba (green finger chili)                                                     


1. Clean and chop the native chicken. If using an itlogan, remove eggs from chicken.

2. In a casserole or pot, sauté onion, ginger, garlic and chopped chicken for about 15 minutes.

3. Add patis and water. Bring to boil for 1 hour 30 minutes over low to medium heat until the chicken is tender.

4. Add lemongrass and itlogan and boil for another 15 minutes.

5. Add coconut milk, papaya and ground black pepper. Simmer for another 15 minutes.

6. Add sili leaves and green chili just before serving.


CHEF’S NOTE: An itlogan refers to a chicken that is pregnant and heavy with fertilized eggs. If unavailable, simply substitute with native chicken.



A longer version of this article appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 2, 2017

Recipes by Chris de Jesus of Provenciano

Styling by Pixie Rodrigo Sevilla

Photos by Paul del Rosario