Vegetarian Sinigang (Filipino Tamarind or Sour Soup)

Total Time
Prep 10 mins
Cook 25 mins

So Vegetarian is almost an unheard of word in the Philippines, but while in college I still wanted the Filipino tastes while trying to be vegetarian. Since all of the recipes I know had meat (even the veggies are cooked in pork) I had to come up with some of my own. This is one of those. Tofu sinigang apparently isn't unheard of in the Philippines but this recipe came out of trial and error. The soup is pretty sour cooked to "full strength" but can make a pretty nice fast meal with rice.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Chop all vegetables. If you use chayote, just cut it in half from where the dip is. It's similar to a mango with the shape of the pit being flat, but the pit is soft unlike in a mango so there's no need to cut around it. Remove the pit/seed from the two halves. Dice, peeling is not necessary.
  2. A note about the tamarind soup mix: If you're vegetarian or sensitive to MSG check the ingredients on the packet. I think they all have MSG, and most have pork, fish or beef in them. I found tamarind broth cubes (listed as tamarind powder b/c Zaar doesn't recognize it) which have less of those things in them which is great, but the best is if you can find real tamarind. I have found both of these in Asian grocery stores in the US, though you can occasionally find them in the ethnic foods isle of a grocery store. If you're using tamarind remove the hard outer shell. The insides feel and sometimes smell like the insides of raisins or prunes. If the tamarind tastes sweet it's not going to give you the right flavor for the soup, but can still be close with kalamansi or lemon juice added. It should be a sour taste. Soak the tamarind pulp, seeds and all, in 1 cup of warm water. Mash this with a fork to remove most of the tamarind from the seeds. Fish out the seeds and the membranes and reserve the liquid to add after potatoes are cooked.
  3. Cook potatoes in water with a touch of salt for about 10 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  4. Add remaining veggies and seasoning and cook 10-15 minutes more, or until veggies are cooked to desired consistency.
  5. Taste broth and adjust water and tamarind seasoning and salt to your liking. Keep in mind that if you're serving this with rice, as I always do, you probably want more intense flavors and a more stew like consistency.
  6. I typically double this recipe since it keeps well in the refrigerator and it gets eaten quite quickly even with just me and my husband. It is important to cook the potatoes before you cook the other veggies because the acid from the tomatoes and the tamarind mix prevent the potatoes from ever cooking through if you add them straight away. The quantities are still an approximation as I've never measured, so if you make this I'd love if you gave me feedback about your input on amounts of water, what seasoning you used etc.
Most Helpful

This recipe is delicious! I am currently on a specific kind of fast so I substituted the tofu for mushrooms and used lemon juice instead of the tamarind. I love the flavors and textures. I can't wait to try it with Tofu:)

AugustMim August 21, 2011

This turned out really good! I wanted to keep it strictly vegetarian, so I used tamarind pods - thanks for the directions on how to do it that way! Instead of eating it like soup we dished out the veggies and tofu to eat with rice. Thanks! Made for Fall 2008 PAC.

Enjolinfam September 18, 2008

Substituted the bok choy for reg. cabbage, and a couple of dashes of tabasco for heat. JUST DELICIOUS! Just goes to show that my Filipino mother is right -- make Filipino food anyway you want to, at least it will always be good to you. Thanks for sharing.

Monica McMillan August 15, 2008