This is one of the easiest and most delicious chicken soups to make. Just like the mythical chicken soups of other cultures, this soup is good for restoring one’s health. By the time we got to Irosin, our photographer, Neal, was very sick and debilitated. I asked the kitchen staff to make a chicken tinola with lots of ginger, green papaya, chile, and malunggay leaves; within a few hours Neal was back on his feet.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 stewing chicken, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
1 small green papaya, peeled, seeded, and sliced ½-inch thick
1 cup fresh or frozen sili (chile) leaves (available in Asian markets), or substitute watercress or water spinach
½ cup malunggay leaves (optional)
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions, ginger, and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken pieces and fish sauce and cook, stirring, until the chicken is well coated with oil, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 8 cups of water, raise the heat, and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, adding the papaya when the chicken is almost tender, 30 to 40 minutes total. Stir in the sili and malunggay leaves, if using. Cook until heated through and wilted if fresh. Season with fish sauce, to taste.