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Feel and look better with these 3 nourishing soups

Hedy Khoo on 06 Mar 2021

The Straits Times


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SINGAPORE - Many women today juggle multiple roles at work and at home, which makes it all the more important that they take care of their health.


To do that, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recommends that one pays attention to food and nutrition and supplements the diet with tonics.


The three soup recipes here will make one look and feel better inside and out.


The Nutritious Beauty Soup, called Zi Yin Yang Yan Tang in Chinese, aims to harmonise the body's internal heat.


Dried unfried fish maw and snow fungus - featured in this recipe - are prized as beauty tonics in TCM. They are believed to be rich in collagen.


Fish maw is also rich in protein and beneficial to the lungs. Cordycep flowers, another ingredient in this recipe, are believed to have anti-ageing properties and help reduce fatigue.


Peach gum, snow fungus and xue yan - the three main ingredients in the Triple Beauty Booster Soup - are also regarded as beauty tonics in TCM.


Peach gum, available in dried form as amber-hued crystals, is the resin of the Chinese peach tree (prunus persica) and is rich in collagen.


Xue yan (snow swallow in Chinese) is a gum derived from different varieties of sterculia trees. The product likely got its name from its white thread-like texture, which, when rehydrated, resembles that of the muchprized and highly valued bird's nest.


According to a 2017 research paper published in Molecular Medicine Reports, an international journal dedicated to molecular medicine, researchers found snow fungus to be a potential therapeutic agent for oxidative stress-related skin diseases and skin ageing.


To rehydrate dried snow fungus, soak it in room temperature water for 30 minutes until it softens.


If you are pressed for time, you can use boiling water, but soak for no longer than five minutes.


For a sweet surprise, prepare the Nourishing Sweet Soup. This souped-up collagen-packed version of the classic cheng tng makes for a refreshing dessert in this humid weather.


Snow lotus seeds, another beauty tonic, give the soup a gumminess, while lily bulbs and lotus seeds impart a powdery texture. Dried longans, red dates and figs lend natural sweetness.


Nutritious Beauty Soup




  • 4.8 litres water
  • 27g dried snow fungus
  • Half a chicken (488g), skinned and halved
  • 32g yu zhu (Solomon's seal)
  • 6g dong yang shen (Japanese ginseng)
  • 10g cordycep flowers
  • 6 pieces (28g) dried fish maw (not fried)
  • 3 black dates (24g)
  • 4 red dates (16g)
  • 8g wolfberries
  • 1⁄4 tsp salt




1. Boil 500ml of water. Place snow fungus in a heat-resistant bowl and

pour boiling water over it. Soak for five minutes. Once the snow fungus is

softened, discard the hot water and rinse.


2. Use scissors to remove the tough stem ends.


3. Rinse the snow fungus and place it in a colander to drain excess water. Set aside.


4. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil in a pot. Blanch the chicken until there is no visible blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.


5. In a clean, sturdy pot, bring the remaining water to a boil.


6. Add the yu zhu, dong yang shen, cordycep flowers, chicken, snow fungus, fish maw, black dates and red dates.


7. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes.


8. Add the wolfberries, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.


9. Season with salt. Stir and turn off the heat.


10. Serve hot.


Makes three to four servings


Triple Beauty Booster Soup




  • 40g peach gum
  • 80g xue yan (snow swallow)
  • 30g dried snow fungus
  • 3 litres of water (for soaking)
  • 4 litres of water
  • 9 pandan leaves, knotted
  • 10 red dates (38g), halved and rinsed
  • 70g dried longans, rinsed
  • 400g brown sugar slabs
  • 30g wolfberries, rinsed




1. Place the peach gum in a large bowl and add 1 litre of water. Leave it to soak for 12 hours.


2. Place the xue yan in a large bowl and add 1 litre of water. Leave it to soak for 12 hours.


3. Discard the soaking liquid in both bowls and rinse thoroughly.


4. Use tweezers to pick out impurities.


5. Rinse and strain the peach gum. Do the same with the xue yan. Set aside.


6. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil. Place the dried snow fungus in a heat-resistant bowl and add the boiling water. Soak for five minutes.


7. Discard the soaking liquid and wash the snow fungus thoroughly.


8. Use scissors to remove the tough stem ends. Tear the snow fungus into 5cm pieces. Set aside.


9. Bring 4 litres of water to a boil in a sturdy pot.


10. Add the pandan leaves, peach gum, snow fungus, red dates and dried longans. Cover and bring to a boil.


11. Simmer for 20 minutes over low heat. Stir occasionally.


12. Add the xue yan and brown slabs of sugar. Simmer for another five minutes.


13. Stir and add the wolfberries. Simmer for another five minutes.


14. Serve hot or chilled.


Makes 10 to 12 servings


Nourishing Sweet Soup




  • 50g xue lian zi (dried snow lotus seeds)
  • 4 litres of water
  • 60g snow fungus
  • 8 large red dates (116g)
  • 30g dried lotus seeds
  • 30g dried lily bulbs
  • 20g honey rock sugar (optional)
  • 30g dried longans
  • 4 figs (60g)




1. Soak the snow lotus seeds in 500ml of water overnight in the fridge. Rinse and drain.


2. Soak the snow fungus in 800ml of water for one hour. Rinse and use scissors to remove the hard stem ends.


3. Use scissors to cut each date into half, lengthwise, and remove the seed.


4. In a pot, bring 2.7 litres of water to a boil.


5. Place the lotus seeds, lily bulbs, snow lotus seeds, snow fungus and red dates in the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for an hour.


6. If you want added sweetness, add the honey rock sugar.


7. Add the dried longans and figs. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.


8. Serve hot or chilled.


Makes four to six servings


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



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