Sotanghon at Bola-Bola Soup

Sotanghon at bola-bola soup made of juicy meatballs, cellophane noodles, cabbage, and celery. This Filipino-style noodle soup is hearty and delicious on its own or as a side dish.



When I make lumpiang shanghai, I usually make twice the meat filling. These Filipino-style spring rolls freeze well and are perfect for days when I am too pressed to prepare anything elaborate for lunch or when guests drop by impromptu.

But mostly, I have the filling handy and ready in the freezer to use for other meal ideas.  This sotanghon at bola-bola soup is only a matter of defrosting the meat mixture, shaping it into balls, and a quick twenty minutes on the stove. I get a delicious and satisfying meal to enjoy in no time.



Meatball ingredients

  • The meat mixture is made of ground chicken but ground pork, beef, or turkey are also great options. Minced shrimp can also be added to boost flavor.
  • It also includes chopped green onions for color and chopped water chestnuts and shredded carrots for texture. Try adding or substituting chopped shitake mushrooms, parsley or cilantro.
  • Season soy sauce for umami flavor, and salt and pepper to balance overall taste.


Cooking tips

  • The recipe uses napa cabbage and kinchay (Chinese celery), but you can also add other vegetables in season such as patola, upo or chicharo (snow peas).
  • Make sure the water is boiling before adding the meatballs to keep from falling apart.
  • You use atsuete /annatto to add color. Soak about 1 tablespoon atsuete seeds in about 1 cup warm water go extract color and then strain in a fine-mesh sieve. Discard seeds and add annatto water to the soup.


How to serve

  • Serve the soup on its own or with puto or pandesal for midday snack. It’s also delicious for lunch or dinner as a main or side dish with steamed rice and fried fish or meat.
  • For best results,  serve the soup freshly cooked as the sotanghon tends to absorb liquid and soften as it stands.
  • To store leftovers, allow to cool completely and transfer in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. This dish does not freeze well.
  • To reheat, place in a saucepan, add more water and adjust seasonings as needed. Heat to an internal temperature of 165 F.

Looking for more delicious noodle soups? Try this creamy chicken sopas with hot dogs or this easy pancit lomi. Enjoy!

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