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Calandracas Soup of Cavite – Instant Pot + Stovetop

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Do not discard the bare ham bone from the holiday feast. You can make this hearty Calandracas Soup of Cavite. This is traditionally served during Christmas and the New Year in Cavite homes, according to cookbook author Guillermo Ramos.

It was a gratifying all-in-one soup meal after I cooked this. Its Caviteno origins are interesting, said Ige, after I interviewed him for a feature last year on Positively Filipino online magazine.

Calandracas started as a soup dish served during wakes. Its origins came from calandra, the Chabacano word for a funeral stretcher. In the coastal towns of Cavite City, Naic and Tanza, mourners brought ingredients as gifts to the family such as livestock, vegetables, spices, seasonings, or local produce indigenous to the region. The offered gifts were placed on the calandra. Later, they were sorted and tossed into a cauldron for soup.

Since those early days, Calandracas has evolved from its agrarian roots. More ingredients were added in Cavite homes: Evaporated milk, ham and macaroni – especially during the American period. This dish intended for wakes, eventually transformed to a celebratory dish for the Noche Buena or the New Year’s Eve dinner.

According to Mr. Ramos, the ham bone used during the Christmas feast, was kept and used to make the soup stock. It was then cooked with aromatic vegetables, then deglazed. In my own stockpot, I added chunks of chicken, ham, Spanish chorizos, assorted vegetables and silky, transparent sotanghon noodles. It was superb.

As the thick ham bone simmered in the clear broth, I took the opportunity to think about this tumultuous year. We are grateful our family was blessed with good health and  the strength to endure.

Like everything that happened this 2020, we shall gather all the experiences we had, put them together in our hearts, and learn from them. It’s the only way to nourish our souls and heal. It’s the best way to keep living and move forward. That, and a piping bowl of this heartwarming Calandracas soup.

For more on Cavite’s cuisine, read my Plaridel Award-winning essay Food HIstorian Ige Ramos Serves Cavite’s Unsung Cuisine which published on Positively Filipino online magazine.

Calandracas Soup of Cavite - Instant Pot + Stovetop

Calandracas Soup traces its origins from the Cavite province in the Philippines. The soup stock is made from ham bone and chicken, simmered with seasonings. This stock is used to cook the Calandracas soup and the meats, Spanish chorizos, vegetables and noodles are added. This is traditionally served during Christmas and the New Year's Eve in most Cavite homes. This was adapted from a recipe in The Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine by Ige Ramos. Serves 6.
*I shared 2 alternative ways to cook this soup: In the stovetop or in the Instant Pot multicooker. The cooking time indicated below is for the stovetop. For the Instant Pot, cooking time is 45 minutes.
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Soups
Cuisine: Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Calandracas Soup Cavite
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 2kcal
Author: Asian in America - Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Large stockpot - for stove top cooking
  • Instant Pot multicooker - 6 quarts or 8 quarts.


For the soup stock:

  • 8 to 10 cups water
  • ½ of a whole chicken, bone-in
  • 1 whole ham bone
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 piece bay leaf
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

For the Calandracas Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 piece Spanish Chorizo, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 whole carrot, peeled, cubed into 1/4-inch pieces
  • whole large potato, peeled, cubed into 1/4-inch pieces
  • ½ cup garbanzos (chick peas), canned, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 250 gm. sotanghon (cellophane) noodles
  • 1 teaspoon achuete (annatto) powder
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


To make the soup stock on the stovetop:

  • Fill a large stockpot with water. Add the chicken, ham bone and rest of the ingredients
    Boil over high heat, then lower heat to a medium. Cover and simmer the soup stock for 1 to 2 hours on medium heat. When soup stock is done, remove the chicken and ham bone. On a chopping board, shred off the meats from the bones. Set aside the chicken and ham bits.
    Pour the cooked soup stock in a bowl and set aside.

To make the Calandracas soup on the stovetop:

  • Soak the sotanghon noodles in a bowl filled with water, for 15 minutes, but not longer than this.
    In the same large stockpot, over medium-high heat, add the oil. Saute the garlic, onions and celery for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the sliced Spanish chorizos and shredded chicken and ham bits.
    Add the sliced carrots, potatoes and garbanzos (chick peas).
  • Dissolve the achuete (annatto) powder in a bowl filled with 1/2 cup warm water. Mix till there are no more lumps.
    Pour this achuete water into the stockpot with the sauteed ingredients.
    Season with patis.
  • Add the shredded cabbage.
    Pour the soup stock cooked earlier. Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Drain the liquid from the soaking sotanghon noodles.
    Add the sotanghon to the simmering soup. Stir to blend with the soup ingredients.
    Cover and continue simmering on low for 15 minutes more.
    Serve warm in individual soup bowls.

Cook's comments:

  • According to author Ige Ramos, macaroni noodles and evaporated milk are widely used in making calandracas in Imus and Cavite City. Also, shell macaroni can be used instead of sotanghon noodles.

To cook in the Instant Pot multicooker:

  • Make the soup stock: Pour water into the inside pot of the Instant Pot.
    Add the meats and all the ingredients for the soup stock.
    Close and lock the lid. Set valve to Sealing.
    Click Manual + High Pressure and set timer for 30 minutes.
    When buzzer sounds, do a Quick Release.
    Unlock and open the lid carefully.
    Give the stock about 5 to 10 minutes to cool off. Using silicone oven mitts remove the inside pot. Pour the stock in a bowl and set aside.
    Remove the chicken and ham from the stock and shred the bits of meat from the bones. Discard the bones. Set the meat pieces aside.
  • Return the inside pot to the Instant Pot.
    Pre-soak the dried sotanghon noodles in a bowl filled with water for 15 minutes. Set aside.
    Click the Saute button. Pour the oil. When oil is hot enough, saute the garlic, onions and celery. Pour the patis.
    Add the Spanish chorizos, carrots and potatoes.
    Pour achuete mixed into the water and 8 cups of the soup stock. Season with salt and black pepper.
    Click Cancel to turn off Saute function.
    Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing.
    Click Manual + High Pressure and set timer to 10 minutes.
  • When buzzer sounds, do a Quick Release.
    Carefully unlock and remove the Instant Pot cover.
    Add the garbanzos, shredded cabbage, the meat pieces and sotanghon noodles to the soup broth.
    Stir gently with a long spoon.
    Close and lock the lid. Press the Keep Warm button and let the low heat continue to cook for 3 minutes.
    Click Cancel to turn off. Carefully unlock and uncover the Instant Pot.
    Serve soup piping-hot in individual bowls.

Notes on the Instant Pot:

  • It takes about 17 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat before cooking time begins.
    For safety, use accessories recommended for the Instant Pot. Read the product manual for more information.
    Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multicooker that cooks in high and low pressure. This is not an ad. I was not paid to endorse the brand. My opinions are my own.

Comments on the Instant Pot:

  • Large ham bones might fit into an 8 quart-sized Instant Pot.
    If your Instant Pot is a 6 -quarts sized one, use chunks of ham instead, to boil the soup stock, if the bone doesn't fit. I have used pork neck bones instead, to fit into the 6-quart Instant Pot.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 2kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 10mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided  in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

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