This quick chicken tinola recipe is like a comforting hug in a bowl and the perfect Filipino twist if you’re looking for a tasty chicken soup recipe. You can make this recipe in less than half an hour and with a basic ingredient list, it’s low effort, high reward.
Chicken tinola was a weekly staple in my home as I grew up. I remember coming home from school and seeing it ready to serve in an old school Corelle serving dish. When it comes to classic recipes, especially staples from cuisines all over the world, every family has their own way of preparing a dish. This was how I was taught and to my surprise, the recipe was much earlier than I thought it would be!
You can use whatever cut of chicken you like for this recipe. I have had this dish prepared with bone-in chicken, but also with boneless skinless chicken, similar to what is used in this recipe.
As Asian recipes and foodie culture grows, I feel like fish sauce is becoming a common staple in western kitchens. It adds a very unique salty, umami flavour that I don’t believe can be duplicated by other ingredients. If you’re not a fan of fish, don’t worry. It doesn’t give this dish a fishy flavour, but adds a depth of flavour.
Letting the flavours mingle
Although this recipe can be made in 30 minutes (which is how I usually make it) you can also make it in advance. Similar to many dishes, this tastes DELICIOUS when you give the flavours time to rest and mingle together.
What is chayote squash?
The funny looking green gourd is pretty awesome. I used to think it looked so funny growing up but it was always one of my favourite fruits (yes, according to Google, it’s a fruit!). It’s prepared many different ways in Filipino cuisine but adding it to chicken tinola is how I know it best.
Chayote squash may or may not be available at your local grocery store. Where I live, it is usually easy to find in the produce aisle of common grocery stores in my area. If I had to describe it, I would say it has more bite than a zucchini and the crispness of an apple – but it’s not sweet. As someone who is a fan of international cooking, I have seen this ingredient being used in Mexican cuisine as well.
If you’re into nutrition, you’ll be happy to know that according to healthline.com, chayote may help promote amazing health benefits such as heart health, anti-aging and liver function. Not to mention, it’s high in fibre too! So if you haven’t tried chayote squash, what are you waiting for? Your body may thank you.
What I LOVE about this ingredient is that when used in soups such as this one, it absorbs ALL the flavour of the broth and adds an almost refreshing quality to a dish. The flavour is subtle and gentle but it does make a difference.
A superfood ingredient
If you’re hip to superfoods, you may have heard of moringa before. In some chicken tinola recipes, it’s common to add fresh moringa leaves. Similar to chayote squash, moringa also has a slew of health benefits. Finding fresh moringa is hit or miss where I live, but if you have access to an international or Asian grocery store near you, you may be able to find a fresh bunch of this nutritious ingredient!
I have always been an advocate for using what you have, so if fresh moringa is not accessible to you, feel free to leave it out. I did not add it to this recipe because it was not available to me at the time. Remember, the kitchen is your canvas!
Rice, all day every day 🍚
To really round out this recipe and create a balanced meal, fresh steamed rice is a MUST. The majority of Filipino soups and stews are usually served with rice and this is no exception. Having a spoonful of the flavourful broth with some warm rice will create the most satisfying bite!