I grew up in the Philippines with a mother who did not spend much time in the kitchen because she was groomed to be a beauty queen, pianist and business woman.
During my childhood and teenage years we were lucky enough to have a wonderful cook we affectionately called Lola Da. She was professionally trained and made expertly prepared dishes like roasted lamb and Coq au vin.
Since Lola Da did all the cooking and meal planning, I had no incentive to go into our kitchen during my younger days.
Now I live in the USA where I do not have any household staff. I am the staff of my home and in that role I am the primary cook and chef.
The cooking skills that I now have are all self taught. I have a hard time following recipes so my dish results are always a mystery.
I love Filipino food. In Connecticut I heard there is only one cafeteria style establishment which I still have to visit. Filipino food is very hard to get so I have had to teach myself how to create the dishes from my childhood.
One of my favorite Filipino comfort food dishes is called mongo soup. It is like a lentil soup but more hearty and flavorful since it is typically packed with succulent tender pork and vegetables. It is typically eaten with rice.
When I cook mongo soup my home has a luscious aroma since it takes about 2 hours to cook the pork and broth so that the meat is fork cutting tender.
I am giving you a basic recipe below. It is very forgiving. If you need to add more of anything, like water salt, vegetables, etc. just do it!
Buono appetito! Sarap ng buhay (Life is delicious!)
Mongo Soup Recipe
1 pound of boneless pork cut into cubes
5 cloves of garlic minced
1 bag of mung beans (typically 1/2 lb. found in Asian store) – known as mongo in the Philippines
1 large tomato diced
1 onion diced
1 gallon of water for broth (enough to cover Pork. Add water if broth evaporates while cooking.)
Salt (add enough to flavor to your liking)
Pepper (add enough to flavor to your liking)
1/2 lb deveined shrimp that is cut in half
3/4 lb spinach
1 Bay leaf
Dash of fish sauce (optional)
1. In a pot, put mung beans and add water to cover beans. Cook till they are soft. This will take about 30-40 minutes. Put beans aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a big soup pot. Add garlic, onions, tomato and pork. Cook till pork is lightly browned. Add water to cover the mixture completely. Add bay leaf.
Simmer for about 2 hours till pork is so tender it can be cut with a fork.
3. When pork is tender, taste and add enough salt and pepper to make the soup taste good to you. Add shrimp and mongo beans. Simmer for about 20 minutes so flavors blend together. It is optional but I sometimes add a dash of fish sauce for additional flavor.
4. Add spinach and then cook for 5 more minutes. Some people like mongo soup liquidy/ soupy. I prefer it a little thicker in consistency, like lentil soup, so I cook it longer. Consistency of the soup is dependent on the chef.
5. Some people love eating mongo soup with rice. Adding rice is optional.
The finished dish is delicious, healthy and mouth watering!