Beef Nilaga (Boiled Beef Soup)

This is how I would celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day this year. Instead of going for Corned Beef and Cabbage boiled dinner, I’d go for Filipino-style boiled beef soup which we call Nilaga. This is a very similar clear broth dish in terms of ingredients and cooking style.


This is the supreme comfort food in the Philippines. It is served all year round even on a hot summer day. Unlike the Irish corned beef and cabbage, Nilaga doesn’t usually include carrots but may sometimes include string beans or sweet corn roundels, if corn is in season. Bokchoy, Napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage could be used as well instead of head of cabbage.  As for the meat, Filipinos usually use beef brisket, shank or tendons. Often, pork ribs and pork belly are also used as cheaper substitutes.


In this recipe, I used slightly ripe plantain banana unpeeled because that’s how my mother usually cook it and I totally adopted it because it gives the dish a slightly sweeter flavor. We keep the banana peel on so it doesn’t turn soggy. You just have to pay more attention cleaning the skin. I usually wash and scrub the surface and using vegetable peeler, I would slice the top layer off.


Nilaga is always served as a soup dish along with its stock and usually paired with steamed rice on the side. If you bring this recipe to the American dinner table, this could be paired with crunchy garlic bread or breadsticks.

Yield: 4 Servings

* Short ribs of beef – 1.5 lbs. or whole single cut
* Black pepper corn – 1 tbsp.
* Yellow Onion – 2 medium pcs, quartered
* Potatoes – 4 medium pcs, cut in halves
* Cabbage – 1 medium size, quartered
* Plantain bananas – 3 pcs, cut in 4 (washed, scrubbed, top layer of skin peeled)
* Fish sauce – 1/8 cup
* Bay leaves – 2 pcs.
* Spices:  Onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, oregano – 2 tsp each
* Water – 3 ½ quarts
* Dried parsley – to garnish

Cooking Instructions
1. Gather and prep all the ingredients.
2. Add water in a deep soup pot. Add the ribs and black pepper corn. Bring to a boil on high heat.
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3. Once boiling, cut heat in medium then add the onions, fish sauce and rest of the spices.

4. When meat is tender, add the potatoes and bay leaves.

5. When potatoes are “just” slightly cooked (not overcooked), add the cabbage and plantain banana.
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6. Take bay leaves out.
7.  Bring back to a simmer.

8. Adjust the taste and serve warm with steamed rice on the side or garlic bread.

Thank you for reading and happy cooking!

5 thoughts on “Beef Nilaga (Boiled Beef Soup)

  1. Hey, what a great blog you got. I love your principles about food. And thank you so much for dropping by and liking my post # bruschetta with avocado and speck. I will definitely come back for more recipes. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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