Vegan tinola is a healthy plant-based meal inspired by the ever-popular Filipino chicken soup. It's made with a delicious savory ginger and garlic broth, green papaya, traditional malunggay, and chewy, plump soy curls in place of chicken.
The broth has a chicken-like flavor even though it's entirely plant-based. When you add a dash of Vegan Fish Sauce, this vegan tinola with fresh moringa leaves cozies right up to the traditional Pinoy soup.
🏆 Top tip
Add malunggay (fresh moringa leaves) and snow peas at the very end of cooking.
⭐ Why it works
- Healthy - Superfood greens with high-fiber, low-fat, gluten-free plant protein.
- Comforting - Delicious gingery broth for cold weather days or anytime.
- Green papaya - true green papaya is succulent, firm, and juicy when cooked in soup.
- Easy substitutions - recipe can be modified with the suggestions below.
- Green papaya - Choose hard, dark green fruit that feels heavy and has white to pale green seeds inside. Check the FAQ section for more tips.
- Soy curls - Butler Foods makes their amazing product entirely from non-GMO soybeans.
- Moringa leaves - also called malunggay and murungai keerai; available in Filipino and Asian markets.
- Snow peas - are not traditional but add a bright, sweet crunch. Include them if you can.
- Vegan fish sauce - More and more grocers are stocking fish sauce alternatives for vegetarians. If you want the best, though, try my from-scratch recipe. It has deep, rich flavor and no artificial additives.
- Vegan chicken bouillon - Make your own in 5 minutes, or I suggest Edward and Sons Not-Chicken Bouillon from the store. Both are delicious.
- Garlic and ginger - are essential. Don't scrimp on the amount.
- Soak soy curls in warm water.
- Prepare the vegetables, ginger, and garlic.
- Cook all the soup ingredients except moringa and snow peas in seasoned broth.
- Finish soup by adding moringa leaves and snow peas at the end.
🍵 What is vegan tinola?
Vegan tinola is an alternative to classic chicken and green papaya soup. This recipe includes all the best components, including malunggay, green papaya, ginger, and garlic.
The plant-based substitutions here for chicken, chicken broth, and fish sauce won't disappoint, and the firm yet silky bite and taste of lush papaya cooked in tinola soup is nothing short of marvelous.
For the ultimate aromatic broth, you'll want to stick to the recipe. However, the vegetables and protein options below give you carte blanche to create your own delicious vegan tinola variation.
- Green papaya - Chayote and opo squash are often used in tinola soup. Zucchini can be used in a pinch, but don't overcook it.
- Soy curls - Plain, fried, smoked, or chicken-flavored tofu are subs you might have in your kitchen, and grocery stores have a variety of vegan chicken strips.
- Malunggay - Sliced fresh spinach or baby spinach leaves are your best bet to replace fresh moringa.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- Follow the recipe for tasty, deeply-flavored vegan chicken broth.
- Soak soy curls for 10 minutes and squeeze out all the soaking water before adding them to the soup.
- Slice ginger and garlic thin, and be generous with the quantity.
- Cut papaya into large chunks at least 3 inches in size. Chunky papaya is one of the great charms of tinola soup.
- Add malunggay and snow peas during the last five minutes of cooking and serve immediately. This will preserve their bright colors and the crunch of the snow peas.
- Serve vegan tinola with extra vegan fish sauce on the side.
Soy curls from Butler Foods are an all-natural alternative to chicken made from 100 percent non-GMO soybeans. They cook quickly, absorb seasonings easily, and have a delicious chewy texture that can be browned or crispy on the edges.
Look for this product in Asian markets or online markets. If you live in an area where papaya is local, it's likely to be found in farmers' and regular markets in the vegetable section. Don't confuse it with the green-skinned papayas in the fruit section that are intended to ripen at home. They will have orange flesh and black seeds inside rather than the hard pale flesh and white seeds of true green papaya.
No, it's not a different variety but rather the unripe fruit of a papaya tree. All varieties of papaya can be picked and eaten green. They should be heavy, hard, and green, with white to pale green flesh inside. Store fruits in the refrigerator once you bring them home.
🍆 More tropical vegetables
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Vegan Tinola - Green Papaya Soup
- Cover 1 cup soy curls with warm water and let soak while prepping vegetables and aromatics.
- Peel 4 cups green papaya, remove seeds and cut into 3-inch chunks. Slice 3 TB ginger root and 4 cloves garlic.
- Measure out 2 cups malunggay (moringa) leaves pulled from their stems. Measure out 1 cup snow peas with any tough strings removed. Set malunggay and snow peas aside to add to the soup at the end.
- Drain soy curls and squeeze hard to remove the water. Discard the soaking water.
- Place soaked and squeezed soy curls in a deep pot with the papaya, ginger, garlic, 1 ½ TB vegan chicken bouillon, 2 TB vegan fish sauce, and 8 cups water
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until papaya is fork tender but not mushy, approximately 15 minutes.
- Once the papaya is soft, add the fresh moringa leaves, snow peas and Black pepper and salt to taste. Bring soup to a fast boil and remove from heat.
- Serve vegan tinola immediately with vegan fish sauce on the side.