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SD’s Top Chef Recipes: Chef Tara Monsod’s Chicken Tinola

Animae's Executive Chef shares a classic family recipe and a favorite among Filipinos for a cozy, rainy day
Tara Monsod recipe

Tara Monsod recipe

“When I think of home, this is one thing that I think of,” says executive chef Tara Monsod of Animae in San Diego’s Marina District when asked about her chicken tinola recipe.

It’s the ultimate comfort food, an indigenous soup that’s full of flavor and a very simple one-pot meal. Chef Tara equates it to traditional chicken noodle soup recipes but with a Filipino twist.

So, what better way to kick off the fall season than with a warm, comforting and satisfying soup recipe. “Growing up, my mom would always make a large pot of chicken tinola when I was sick,” says Chef Monsod. “A bowl of chicken tinola feels like a hug from my mom and instantly transports me back to our family home in Los Angeles.”

A riff on her mother’s recipe (which has itself gone through variations over the years), the power behind this soup is its use of ginger and enough leafy greens to give your immune system a nice boost.

Though it can be difficult to find the original ingredients like Chayote (an edible plant belonging to the gourd family), finger chili leaves (Thai pepper leaves), and malunggay leaves (a plant native to India), chef Tara emphasizes that any of the greens can be substituted with your favorite ingredients. If you can, though, seek out the ingredients at local Asian markets to get those authentic flavors.

To make chef Tara’s recipe, follow the steps below and enjoy:

Chef Tara Monsod’s Chicken Tinola


3 lbs Chicken Legs or Wings

6 tbsp Neutral Cooking Oil

6 each Garlic, Minced

1 each Onion, Large Dice

3 each 2-inch pieces Ginger, peeled and minced

3 each Green Papaya, Large Dice (Chayote if unavailable)

2 bunches Moringa Leaves (spinach if unavailable)

2 each Yellow Pepper

2 tbsp Fish Sauce

Salt to taste

2 Qt Water (extra if want more broth)


1). Season chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2). In a pot, sear chicken until lightly brown on all sides. Set aside.

3). Add onion and garlic into the pot. Sweat to help remove brown fond on pot.

4). Add chicken back into the pot and cover with water. Simmer for 45 mins – 1 hour, until chicken is tender.

5). Remove chicken and strain broth. Combine chicken and broth together in new pot.

6). Salt to taste. Then add yellow peppers, green papaya and simmer until papaya is tender.

7). Add moringa and fish sauce.

8). Serve with rice and enjoy!

By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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