Learn how to make Beef Nilaga, a nourishing Filipino Beef and Vegetable Soup. A pressure cooker (like Instant Pot) makes the beef extra tender in less time!
When you grow up in a Filipino household in New York, you notice a couple of things. One is there are certain dishes that frequent the rotation when the snow hits the ground. The other is you notice when your dad cooks, which seemed to occur with the frequency of rare astronomical events. And when the two coincide, well, those are the dishes that really stand out to memory.
Beef Nilaga is the Filipino Beef and Vegetable Soup that always seemed to be the perfect antidote to those cold and blustery winters, especially the ones when you would get the day off from school and could build snow tunnels in the backyard.
I always knew if it was my mom who made it — she was more apt to skimp on time and serve it just when the beef was just tender enough to be palatable. Since she would use beef for stew in the recipe, it required hours of cooking on the stove, and time was always a challenge. My dad, on the other hand, seemed to take more time to cook his version of Nilaga, which when translated, simply means “to boil.” And boil it would, bubbling away for hours until the beef was utterly tender and the broth fragrant and comforting.
Now that we’re in the depths of our California winter, my cravings for Beef Nilaga coincide with the relentless rain, and like my mom, time is always an issue. Thank goodness for pressure cookers like the Instant Pot! What used to take me 3 hours now takes a fraction of the time. I have a feeling my dad would be amazed at how well his Beef Nilaga recipe translates to the Instant Pot.
What is Beef Nilaga?
Beef Nilaga, or Nilagang Baka, as it is called in the Philippines, is a simple Filipino Beef and Vegetable Soup. Made with economical cuts of beef for stew and beef neck bones, cabbage, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, I think of Beef Nilaga as the cousin to an Irish beef and cabbage stew. You can, of course, use beef short ribs, which while more pricy, is perfect in this dish, since you have both luscious chunks of meat and the bone that adds richness to the broth.
Simmering the beef for hours allows the beef to become supple and tender, and the broth rich and flavorful. When made in an Instant Pot, the pressure cooking allows you to make the dish in about half an hour. Like many Filipino dishes, this beef and vegetable soup is served over rice and absolute comfort food.
More Filipino Comfort Food Recipes to Try
Filipino Chicken Adobo
Arroz Caldo (Filipino Chicken and Rice Soup)
Filipino-style Picadillo Bowls
Mechado (Filipino Beef Stew)
Molo Soup (Filipino Wonton Soup)
Chicken and Asparagus Sotanghon (Glass Noodle) Soup
Instant Pot Beef Nilaga (Nilagang Baka): Philippine and Vegetable Soup
- 1 lb beef neck bones
- 1 lb beef for stew (beef chuck roast, see notes)
- 2 cups onion finely diced (about 1 large onion)
- 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6-7 cups water
- 1/2 head of cabbage
- 1 kamote sweet potato
- 3 carrots cut in 1 inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce or substitute kosher salt
Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Cooking:
- Place the beef neck bones and stew meat with onion, peppercorns, salt and water in the pressure cooker. Place the cover on the pressure cooker, and pressure cook on high for 30 minutes, until the meat is absolutely tender and falling off the bones.
- Depressurize the pressure cooker. If necessary, skim any foam from the broth. If you wish, cook the broth in advance and refrigerate. Any solidified fat will be easier to skim.
- Add the vegetables and cook on the simmer function until the potatoes are fork tender. Season to taste with fish sauce or salt. Serve hot over rice.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat beef neck bones and stew meat with onion, peppercorns, salt and water over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat, and cover, allowing to simmer for several hours, until the meat is absolutely tender and falling off the bones. If necessary, skim any foam from the broth. If you wish, cook the broth in advance and refrigerate. Any solidified fat will be easier to skim.
- When the meat is tender, add the vegetables and cook a little more until the potatoes are fork tender. Season to taste with fish sauce or salt. Serve hot over rice.