Switch up your usual Tinola! This Tinolang Manok sa Upo is mouthwateringly delicious nashville filipino food with chicken, bottled gourd, and spinach in a savory ginger-flavored broth. It is a comforting meal that will surely pick you up.

Perfect with steamed rice for a hearty and healthy meal!
Tinolang Manok sa Upo in a bowl with a plate of steamed rice on the side
Tinolang Manok sa Upo

Tinola is one of the most popular Filipino classic dishes as it is easy to prepare, budget-friendly, and nutritious. It is one of our favorites and is a family staple for a filling lunch or dinner. 

This Filipino soup has many variations, not only by region but also by household. While the most traditional protein is chicken, other versions use pork, fish, or seafood. Green papaya is usually added to bulk-up servings but is sometimes substituted with chayote or upo, like in this Tinolang Manok sa Upo recipe.

chicken, bottle gourd, fish sauce, salt, pepper, ginger, spinach, water, oil

Ingredient notes

  • Chicken – bone-in works best for this recipe as it gives the broth a deeper and meatier flavor. However, you can substitute boneless chicken breasts or thighs if you don’t want to tackle bones while eating.
  • Upo– also called bottle gourd or long squash, is characterized by its elongated or cylindrical shape. It is mildly flavored with a slight hint of sweetness.
  • Spinach– you can also use moringa (malunggay) or chili pepper leaves,
  • Ginger– gives the soup a warm, slightly peppery flavor with a refreshing aroma.
  • Fish sauce – adds a savory, umami taste
  • Onions and garlic– aromatics serve as the flavor base
  • Salt and pepper– season to taste
cooking tinolang manok sa upo in a pot

Tinolang Manok sa Upo is perfect for those hectic weeknights as it is easy to prepare and cooks in less than an hour! It is also a tasty, comforting dish for the cold weather.

As upo shares equal billing here with the chicken, picking quality bottle gourd is important for the best results. Choose young gourds that are firm to the touch and have smooth, light green skin free of bruises, spots, or yellow discolorations.

If the squash is young, the seeds are tender and edible. If more mature, scoop out the seeds, and spongy interior as the seeds are too hard for consumption, and the spongy flesh can turn mushy during cooking.

How to prepare upo

  1. Wash under cold running water. With a knife, cut off the stem end.
  2. Peel off the skin with a peeler.
  3. Cut the peeled upo lengthwise and remove any mature seeds.
  4. Slice as per recipe directions.
chicken tinola with upo and spinach in a pot

Helpful tips

  • Cut the ingredients uniformly to ensure even cooking.
  • Tend to the soup and remove any scum that floats to the surface for a clear, cloud-free broth.
  • If you want to add a slight kick of heat, you can throw in a couple of long green peppers or Thai chili peppers.
serving tinolang manok sa upo in a bowl

How to Serve and store

  • Enjoy Tinolang Manok sa Upo piping hot on its own or served with steamed rice and spiced fish sauce for dipping for a hearty lunch or dinner.
  • Allow leftovers to cool completely before storing. Transfer them into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
  • To reheat, place in a saucepot on a stove over medium heat. Simmer until warmed through with an internal temperature of 165 F.

Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @kawalingpinoy on Facebook and Instagram!



  • 1tablespooncanola oil
  • 1onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3clovesgarlic, peeled and minced
  • 2thumb-sized ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2poundsbone-in chicken, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2tablespoonsfish sauce
  • 4cupswater
  • 1large upo, peeled and cut into 2-inch wedges (about 2 cups)
  • 1bunchfresh spinach leaves, stems trimmed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened.
  • Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 4 minutes or until color changes and juices run clear.
  • Add fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add water and bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top.
  • Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Add upo and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes or until tender yet crisp.
  • Add spinach and push down into the broth. Turn off heat and cover until leaves are just wilted.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. serve hot.


  • Cut the ingredients uniformly to ensure even cooking.
  • Tend to the soup and remove any scum that floats to the surface for a clear, cloud-free broth.
  • If you want to add a slight kick of heat, you can throw in a couple of long green peppers or Thai chili peppers.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 507kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 189mg, Sodium: 939mg, Potassium: 1058mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 8121IU, Vitamin C: 27mg, Calcium: 147mg, Iron: 4mg

“This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.”

About Lalaine Manalo

Welcome to Kawaling Pinoy. Here you’ll find hundreds of delicious nashville filipino food Filipino and Asian recipes. Make sure to browse around and pick a favorite dish or two. Happy cooking! Read More

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