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Singapore Cooks: Mother-of-one plans to make herbal soup 'fun and hip'

Eunice Quek on 09 Nov 2019

The Straits Times


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SINGAPORE - Madam Queena Kok looks set to be a queen of soup.


She prepares nourishing brews daily for her husband and four-year-old son - just like what her mother used to do.


Her parents, both in their 70s, sold herbs at a shop in Kuala Lumpur for 50 years before retiring 10 years ago.


The Ipoh-born Madam Kok, 40, quit her job as a strategy director in a bank two years ago and is now hoping to honour their legacy by starting a soup business.


Madam Kok, a Singaporean, says: "I want to make herbal soup hip and fun for the younger generation. Their impression of herbal soup is that it is either bland or bitter. I want to change that mindset."


She shares her mother's recipe for double-boiled "power-up" herbal soup which, she says, helps to relieve stress, fight fatigue and calm one down after a long day.


She grew up drinking this soup, which was always on the table for the family, regardless of how busy her mother was.


Double-boiling the soup in a small portion results in a more intense flavour.


However, using a slow-cooker or a bigger pot can work as well. She recommends using 1.2 litres of water in a pot to boil for two hours, or 600ml of water in a slow-cooker for four hours.


The recipe is straightforward and suitable for working mums who, like her, want to provide a home-cooked meal for their families.


Other dishes that she prepares to go with her soup include grilled salmon, stir-fried vegetables and salads.


Picking the right combination of herbs to brew a soup can be daunting for some, she says.


So she is looking to sell pre-packed herb packets with recipes, as well as offer delivery for her herbal soup. With the pre-packed options, consumers do not need to worry about how much herbs to buy or wasting ingredients that are not used.


Other ways to modernise the use of herbs include infusing the ingredients into Western dishes as well as desserts.


As part of her market research, she has sold her soup at pop-up booths. She also posts on a Facebook page videos with soup recipes and recommendations on soups to drink for conditions such as asthma and sore throat.


On her new business venture, she says: "I want to help others and protect the health of families, while paying tribute to my parents. I was born into this herb business and it would be a pity to not continue what my parents started."






  • 40g chestnuts
  • 20g red lotus seeds
  • 15g dried figs
  • 7g goji berries
  • 5g dang shen (codonopsis), cut into
  • 2-inch-long pieces
  • 3g dang gui head (Chinese angelica root), thinly-sliced
  • 220g chicken, chopped
  • 400ml boiled hot water
  • Salt to taste




1. Rinse all herbs three to four times with water. Drain and set aside.


2. Clean the chicken and remove its skin. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the chicken for two minutes.


3. Place all ingredients in a small ceramic soup jar (for double-boiling) with enough hot water to cover all the ingredients.


4. Cover the jar, then place it into a bigger pot with a flat base. Fill the bigger pot with water till it is about half full.


5. Cover the bigger pot and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Then, lower to medium heat and continue to boil for three hours. Check the water level in the bigger pot every 30 minutes to ensure sufficient water for boiling.


6. After three hours, turn off the fire. Carefully remove the soup from the pot. Season to taste and serve hot.


Serves one to two people


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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