Whether you call it pancit molo or molo soup, it is the same basic Filipino soup dish — pork dumpling or wonton soup often with bits of cooked chicken in the broth. I’ve always wondered why it goes with a pancit (noodles) label when there are no noodles in the soup. Then, I read somewhere, I don’t anymore remember where, that because the dumpling (wonton) wrappers are made with basic noodle ingredients (i.e., flour, salt and water), the presence of the wrappers in the soup somehow qualifies it as a noodle soup.
The “Molo” part of the soup’s name is really descriptive of its history. Today, Molo is a district in the city if Iloilo. It was a town during the Spanish colonial period. And, before that, a place where the locals traded with the Chinese. Many of the Chinese traders stayed and settled permanently in the place and it already had a large Chinese population by the time the Spaniards arrived. Hence, its old name, Pari-an or Chinatown.
Today, the descendants of these early Chinese settlers can be found in such names as Consing, Ditching, Lacson, Layson, Locsin, Yulo and Yusay… [Read more: Molo, Iloilo: Its prominent place in history]
When the town’s name became Molo, I am not sure. But it was already known as Molo by the time that someone sold the first bowl of Pancit Molo or Molo soup. Clearly, it was a local version of the Chinese wonton soup. Considering how Molo used to be known as Chinatown, we can safely deduce that the Chinese wonton soup is indeed the ancestor of the Pancit Molo or Molo soup.
There are two ways to make Molo soup — the authentic (and more laborious way) or the easy way. The authentic way is to prepare the dumplings from scratch, wrap them one by one and cook them in simmering broth. The easy way is to buy prepared dumplings and simply drop them in the broth.
If you choose the easy way, make sure to get good quality dumplings. The dumplings you see in the photos were store-bought.
If you choose the authentic way, there are several versions for making the dumplings. Some add minced shrimp to the filling; others add whole shrimps to the broth. I do neither because I am allergic to shrimps. When my family craves for shrimps, I cook them as a separate dish. I never use them as an ingredient unless I am cooking another dish that is friendlier to my digestive system.
You can experiment with the different variations. You can add pieces of chicken meat to the broth for a real “authentic” Molo soup.
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the filling, (except the wonton wrappers, of course). Fill the wrappers with the meat mixture (see guide).
Heat the cooking oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot. Saute the garlic and onions just until fragrant. Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer.
Drop the prepared dumplings one by one. Simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes.
During the last few minutes of simmering, taste the broth and add more patis and pepper, as needed. Add the malunggay leaves, if using (if using onion leaves, add them just before serving).
Serve the molo soup as soon as it’s done.