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Lunch Teleserye 1 : Banana-Malunggay Soup

The Moringa Kitchen

A few days ago, I thought of having a simple soup that should have clean-tasting broth, filling for the tummy and loaded with greens and other vegetables. I’ve been trying to lessen rice in my diet, and yet I don’t want my carbohydrate consumption insufficient since I am breastfeeding, and I need lots of good calories.

Where I come from, we call the All-Veggie, Anything-You-Can Fill the Pot Veggie Soup - Utan Bisaya. It is a Cebuano term which loosely means vegetable soup cooked the Bisaya way, usually with added dried fish, fried fish, malunggay, alugbati, squash, lemongrass, okra…anything that is from the backyard vegetable patch or whatever is sitting on the kitchen table.

My people in the South call it utan pinobre, the poor man’s soup. I grew up with our house help usually adding a dash or “tak-tak” of the infamous vetsin that makes anything taste extra delicious, even the poor man’s soup was not spared. It’s obvious many people still add these things, although now they have taken on new forms and names.

But let’s have none of the nasty “tak-tak” vetsin. A little bit of research will tell you what’s bad about it. There are many ways to make a simple vegetable soup savoury and delicious.  

Lucia, Mela & Martine were playing in the yard before lunch, picking the last of the flowers that's survived the summer heat, and got curious why we added saba banana in the soup. They are used to having it fried or boiled. Wouldn’t it be weird to the taste? I told them that it adds a nice, subtle sweet flavour to the broth. 

On another note, talking about soup, I had a very funny experience one time ordering a vegan soup for a vegan guest, in a non-vegan restaurant. To say that it was a vegan disaster was an understatement. It was a scene out of a comedy show.

A very special friend from Manila visited me and my family, and she happened to be strictly vegan. But throughout her vacation, she was able to sustain herself by eating vegetarian meals, as an exception to her daily rule. We planned to go to dinner and thought the Italian restaurant should do. It was getting late, and there was no more time to look for good Indian food. I don't know why but at this fairly good Italian restaurant everything went wrong that night… from the wilted salad greens, to the most ridiculous vegetable soup. My vegan friend ordered minestrone, and requested only not to add salt, not to add meat/butter, just to be sure. The soup came and behold - the little bowl only had pieces of broccoli florets, swimming in a pale broth. A bit miffed, I asked for the manager and inquired that perhaps they made a mistake.

The lady manager with the air of a Marquesa defended the wee soup and told me that’s how they do it in Italy.


“Yes Mam, I‘ve lived a long time in Italy and that’s how they prepare it.”

I turned to my vegan friend. I thought both our eye balls popped out… I thought I heard the slap bass of Seinfeld. However, we are peaceful people, and yes we gave the manager a slight nod to be done with it. Sensing our disappointment she offered to improve the minestrone, and it came back with a bit more mushy zuchinni, tomatoes,  and a tomatoey-reddish broth. My friend endured the “delightfu”l minestrone. In my mind, why do we go through the inanities of a restaurant when you can make a good utan bisaya at home?

This Banana-Malunggay soup is very simple. A light chicken & vegetable broth without the vetsin. Also, it’s anything but anaemic of vegetables, there are more good veggies floating in this soup!

You can make this anytime, and you can even bring it to work.

This can be your ready to eat soup in a jar.

Go make!


Chicken Broth

  • 500ml drinking water

  • about 50g or 100g chicken meat

  • 2 small stalks of Lemongrass, wash and pound the leaves and root part using a mortar and pestle to release its aromatic oils, fold or coil the leaves, tie up into a small bundle

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

  • 1 inch fresh, mashed ginger

  • 1 medium sized ripe tomato, cut in half or slice to small pieces

  • 1 tsp pure coconut oil


  • 1/2 cup fresh malunggay-moringa leaves only

  • 2 medium sized potatoes quartered

  • 3 medium sized mid-ripe saba banana, thick circle slices

  • 1/2 of medium sized carrot, thick circle slices

  • 1/4 of a medium sized cabbage

To Make:

  • Make the chicken broth: sauté the garlic, mashed ginger and tomatoes in 1 tsp pure coconut oil, until it becomes fragrant; add the pieces of chicken meat, sauté slightly; add water and the lemongrass bundle, let it simmer for sometime until the flavors come together.

  • Adding the fruit/vegetables: add the potatoes first, when almost cooked through, add the carrots, then the saba bananas, make sure you don’t over cook the bananas that it becomes mushy, let the flavours mix, simmer for about 3-5 minutes, add salt to taste, then add the sliced cabbage and last the malunggay leaves.

Serve hot!

Enjoy your healthy soup!

No anaemic minestrone, please!

Can you imagine "that" conversation between Matutina and Dolphy? Or Brosia and her Amo? Pen Medina, please write it, lots of love here from your fan!

Now I’m thinking of making more variations of the Utan Bisaya! 

Keep you posted!



MARKET DAY: Honey Jars & Jam

The Moringa Kitchen

This is the second year that I hoped The Ranch bee farm would have better stock. Not that I’d be buying a ton of honey, but it’s nice to know that a certain balance had been restored for the bees that are producing more honey this season. Around the same time last year, only a few jars were available. We’ve been collecting some good honey lately, and enforcing some honey ration at home after we discovered one toddler had the penchant for overly lathering the bread, and half the jar was gone in one afternoon. Someone quipped she should stop eating too much honey or else, she will turn into a bee. The poor toddler believed so, I think, in a rather incredulous way. Meanwhile, at The Ranch, they make very nice pottery and each piece is uniquely handcrafted.

Months ago, a friend told me about the “Sampinit” which is an indigenous berry. I’ve never heard of it. A local equivalent to raspberry?! Wow. Getting the Sampinit to land in Mactan, and to the house is another story. This thing is a wild berry that grows abundantly in the outlying hills or mountains in Cagayan Valley and South Luzon.

Four kilos of frozen Sampinit calls for jam or juice. It’s really nice when you jam fruits your way, you can let it macerate, bubble up, thicken nicely with very little sugar, and no need for preservatives. Sometimes when the fruit is already sweet, I don’t add sugar at all. The Sampinit jam has a very nice sweet-tart flavour and the texture is like Millet grains.

Later, I attempted to do the Japanese Furoshiki style of wrapping the jars which I think turned out wrong in all corners and somewhat looked like Totoro, but even Totoro would not approve! The girls did not approve! I can do better next time.


The Moringa Kitchen

She was very fond of making chiffon cake. I thought of making chiffon too for Mother’s day. However, a stack of ripening bananas sat in one corner and I thought to make Chiffon I’d be using lots of eggs and lots of sugar. Ma, why not a better Banana Bread? I’m sure you would approve it, just the same as chiffon.

I imagine that she’s here. We would eat cake, there would be a cup of tea for her, and hot chocolate for me. We would talk about where my heart is, and all the nonsense we love. But my heart is crushed again because I could no longer touch her. Modern society and its celebration of Mother’s Day bites hard at me, year after year. It’s incredibly hard for me to celebrate outside the house. It’s insane. All the flowers, the food and people hugging and kissing their moms. I will die with my tears! I prefer being cocooned at home with the kids.

I remember the yellows. She said I look good in yellow. I can count by the fingers the few times I wore yellow. I think it’s about the only thing that I disagreed with her. In everything, our hearts and minds were fused. In the end, I realized that she was a soul mate. When I try to find her, the connection instantly goes to baking. That’s why I am always happy when I bake.

So for this banana bread, maybe you can call it special or better than your usual banana bread. I adapted this recipe from a mom blogger named Sophistimom. How can you go wrong with a name like that? Sophistimom is very lovely and her recipes really work. I was glad I saved the recipe before her site crashed! I thought it’s the best banana recipe I’ve tried… fluffy, moist, with just the right banana flavor. The only thing I added is the dried pure Moringa leaf flakes, mixed into the batter.

Go bake, be happy and enjoy this yummy Moringa Banana Bread!

2 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp crushed sea salt
1/2 tsp Dried Pure Moringa leaf flakes

3 large ripe bananas
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup goat milk yoghurt or low fat sour cream
2 eggs beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

To Bake:
Preheat the oven to 350F
Line 2 medium sized loaf pans with baking paper

  1. In a mixing bowl combine, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl mash well the ripe bananas.
  3. Add and mix one at a time the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir, until they are all thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour mixture in the lined loaf pans.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Test if the batter is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the loaf, it should come out clean, and not wet.
  7. Cool the banana cakes to room temperature in their moulds.
  8. Flip them out of the pans, slice and serve with tea or your favorite drink.


Market Day : Blooms, Organic Supply & A Local Dairy

The Moringa Kitchen

It’s one of those mornings when you go out for fresh picks and everything looks right. 

I’m glad that Cebu is catching up with good looking organic produce. It’s not always this way. I wondered too if it’s our soil that’s not right. Or perhaps we haven’t yet cultivated fully our land to make robust organic crops.

A friend from Iloilo chattered about Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish conquistador who ventured away from Cebu to Panay in search of better food. While this story will surely raise the "bisdak" eyebrows, perhaps there is good reason to develop more lands for nourishing crops and specialty foods other than our Lechon.

There is a huge and beautiful food basket South of our island, but still few are practicing organic planting methods. I'm sure there is the desire among farmers & advocates to go all the way for organic farming and we will get there. As of the moment, my country can even hardly rescue our farmers from El Niño.

Meanwhile, it's nice to find vendors who serve organic and unique food items from farms within and near Cebu. I'm really curious about the Goatery in Talay, Dumaguete. It's amazing that these people are making cheese in this crazy hot country.

A note on organic mangoes. Can you believe there are now organic Guimaras mangoes? I cannot imagine how you can grow organic mangoes because to me it's almost impossible! For mango fanatics like me, this is wild.

Have a nice and cheerful day, til the next market visit.

Gravida Six

The Moringa Kitchen

Pia is our new baby.

She came to this world, June of last year, and made me a mother of six. I've always felt unready in all of my birthing. For this one, I really tried my best to ease into readiness for the 6th cesarian procedure. When medical staff realize this, their eyeballs usually fall out. I get the usual surprised reactions which can be pretty hilarious or annoying because I've been getting them since I reached gravida 4.

While the operation went on with Pia, I heard the anesthesiologist murmur something...well isn't she a record holder for six?  Are you gonna go for seven? And in the middle of it all in your "strapped", semi-lucid state you just want to say...are you kidding me?!

Then later I felt the massive pushing of hands, like it almost drowned my chest before she came out. I gave a silent prayer of gratitude for all of them...gravida six, all term, all living.

It was fortunate as well that before I birthed Pia, I met the good birth keepers and somehow got me into the birthing zone - Ibu Robin, Monica Manzano, Doulas Irina Otmakhova, Samantha Garcia, Dr. Veloso, Velvet Roxas (who took my incessant calls), my midwife Vivian, and of course Dr. Viray, whose skillful hands mine and Pia's life depended upon. Pia is a serious milestone for us. It takes a village of good women to support and protect a woman birthing life into the world.

I wish I had beautiful natural births like the other moms but I was always unprepared! I wanted to go for vbac in my 2nd and 3rd but it just never happened. It's good now that the birthing community is up and support is so accessible.

God bless and keep holy these birth keepers!

You are bringing into this world, not just little precious bodies, but souls. They have been formed and called by name from beyond eternity, thank you for defending their lives.

As to being a mother of six, I always take it as grace multiplied!