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These frozen collagen soup packs let you have a nourishing hotpot at home

These frozen collagen soup packs let you have a nourishing hotpot at home
PHOTO: Chu Collagen

Since debuting on the hotpot menus of restaurants such as Beauty In The Pot, collagen soup has remained a sought-after dining-out experience.

It is a primal memory for many, including Bella Koh, #HerWorldTribe member and the wellness practitioner behind Slowhouse ( She recently started selling fresh-cooked soups (prices start from $25 for a bowl of fish maw soup), with recipes inspired by those her grandmother made for the family.

“She would cook a Peranakan-style fish maw and pork intestines soup that we savoured every festive season,” Bella recalls. “In Hong Kong, for instance, Cantonese soup is a daily ritual, but it isn’t so here. Nothing much comes to mind when you talk about iconic soups in Singapore.”

Bella’s version is tweaked for a healthier lifestyle. Based on a clear-style dashi instead of pork, it includes plenty of fish maw, tofu and vegetables. Its popularity took her by surprise, with fans clamouring for more than what she could produce from her own kitchen.

She is already planning to introduce frozen, ready-to-eat soups to cater to the demand. “I see it more as a craving for authentic food that offers nourishment and comfort. Many customers ordered it for themselves after their vaccination, or to send to friends and family,” she says.

Fish maw – animal bone or skin – is known to be high in collagen, and is loved as an ingredient in soups. Unlike bone broth, which is mainly made by simmering bones, ligaments and tendons, collagen is extracted from more parts of the whole animal, such as feet and skin.

Meanwhile, for those who prefer staying in, collagen soup comes in convenient frozen packs too. Simply defrost, then boil the soup for five minutes or less, throw in your favourite ingredients, and you get a complete meal.

Here, we put three frozen collagen soup brands to the taste test. Find out how they fared.

Chu Collagen

While fresh to F&B, Ethel Neo and Peter Lau are no newbie entrepreneurs – they also run Eclat by Oui, a diamond simulant business. Chu Collagen was born in 2018, after Ethel had her first child and was craving collagen soup at home.

“The tricky part was achieving the balance between the thick consistency and the rich flavour; this was also affected by how long the soup was boiled. So Ethel had to try many times with different combinations just to get it right,” says Peter.

Chu Collagen launched in April 2020 and hit $1 million in revenue in one year. Strong demand has led to a soup subscription service and plans to launch in Malaysia later this year.

Chicken collagen soup

Ingredients: Chicken (bones and meat), salt and ginger

Taste test: The wobbliest of the three before boiling, the soup is nonetheless deeply flavourful. More yellow in colour, it also appears slightly oilier. The soup has a relatively thick consistency, so consider adding just a little water, or a good heap of vegetables and meat to increase the water content.

Packaging: Available in handy 500ml pouches with an easy-tear feature, these are delivered frozen in a foil package. Freeze for up to a year, or refrigerate for up to a month. Delivery is available on Saturday for one-time purchases.

Price: $28 for 1l (two packs of 500ml), $50 for 2l. Subscribers can opt for monthly deliveries at 15 per cent off.

Rating: Best performance for quality and affordability. 9/10


As the third generation in his family’s dried seafood trading business, Yio Jin Xian tapped his knowledge in seafood expertise and long-standing relationship with suppliers to create Yao 1948’s fish collagen broth – the year refers to the founding of his grandfather’s business.

“It took us 14 months and 23 rounds of testing to perfect the recipe,” says Jin Xian, who fondly recalls his mother’s homemade broths.

“Like hers, our broths do not use additives, salt or sugar. Using different proteins yields a richer broth that does not overwhelm the palate with a single overpowering flavour. This delivers a balanced and complete umami experience.”

Fish collagen broth

Ingredients: With a longer list of premium ingredients, this soup has a noticeably deeper seafood flavour. A dash of organic fish sauce – albeit unorthodox – amps up the umami factor, which is further rounded up with Jinhua ham, fish cartilage, conch, organic pork bones and old mother hen.

Taste test: The soup is gelatinous and sticky, with a more refined texture akin to milky cartilage soups in Cantonese fine diners.

There is a distinctive seafood flavour that you may associate with the conch and fish cartilage, though it’s balanced with a natural sweetness. For an instant, luxurious soup at home, add fish maw or abalone ($15 for three pieces of each) to your purchase. Or, simply down it like a tonic.

Packaging: 200g or 500g plastic pouch, delivered frozen in a zippered insulated Yao bag. Deliveries are on Wednesday and Saturday only.

Price: $20 for 200g, $40 for 500g

Rating: For a luxurious, restaurant-standard treat at home. 8.5/10

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Maureen Ow, better known as food writer Miss Tam Chiak, debuted her Towkayneo broths in collaboration with chef Cao Yong in June. Aside from the convenience of having 12-hour simmered broths at home, her goal is to jazz up everyday meals with fuss-free dishes.

Favourites like lobster pao fan and Sichuan poached fish can be heated up quickly for an instant meal – all ingredients come packaged in bundle kits with her broths.

She says: “Many brands do chicken collagen broth, but I prefer pork broth, so our broths feature lots of pork bones and pig skin, and don’t include MSG and preservatives.”

Pork collagen broth

Ingredients: A homey mix of pork bones, pig skin, pork and old mother hen comes complemented by aromatic dried sole fish, leek, ginger and yes, salt and sugar.

Taste test: Repeated tastings reveal a mellow meaty flavour, without any hint of “porkiness”.

It has the right balance, as the mouthfeel is lightly sticky, yet doesn’t feel too saturating. The base delivers a satisfying background note that pairs excellently with the sweetness of shellfish or meat, or umami from mushrooms. We’d build a hotpot with this!

Packaging: The 1kg size pouch is delivered frozen in a foil package. Store in freezer for six to 12 months. Choose available delivery dates from a calendar, with a typical lead time of three days.

Price: $22 for 1kg. A collagen bundle hotpot kit ($56.90) includes 2l of broth, fresh prawns and Spanish Iberico pork collar.

Rating: Good value for money, especially for hotpot parties and families. 8/10

So, does collagen really give us stronger nails?

Here are popular collagen-related nutrition questions, answered by Ma Chea Yee, a dietitian from Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Collagen is a popular ingredient in soups and has been touted for its health benefits.

What exactly is collagen?

Collagen is a type of protein that is most abundant in the body. It acts as a connective tissue to hold various structures together, such as skin, joints, ligaments, heart, muscles and bones. There are different types of collagen.

Type I provides structure to skin and bones; Type II is found in cartilage for healthy joints; and Type III provides structure to muscles and organs.

Does our body produce less collagen as we age?

Collagen depletion is unavoidable as part of the ageing process. But we can help slow it down by getting adequate ultraviolet (UV) protection, vitamin C and sleep; decreasing sugar and alcohol intake; and quitting smoking.

Collagen is made up of amino acids from protein. Nutrients such as vitamin C are needed to synthesise collagen. Hence, ensure you get two or three servings daily of protein-rich food such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans and tofu, and aim for two serves of fruits and vegetables each daily.

How much collagen should we take daily?

There is no recommended daily amount for collagen. However, if you often take collagen soup or bone broth, where salt may be added for flavouring, note its sodium, total fat and saturated fat content. It is recommended to keep your sodium intake to 2,000mg (or 5g of salt) per day.

ALSO READ: Love collagen hot pot? Here's what collagen does for your skin and body

How does our body process collagen?

Collagen in our body is made up of amino acids from the protein sources we consume. Collagen consumed from foods such as fish, egg white, and meat with muscle or connective tissue, cannot be absorbed by our body in its whole form.

Instead, these foods must be digested and broken down into amino acids, after which they are absorbed and used to form collagen (or other forms of protein). Hence, consuming collagen does not necessarily mean it will be used to produce collagen by the body.

Is it recommended to obtain collagen from bottled drinks, capsules and powders?

We do not need to consume collagen as it cannot be absorbed by our body, but if you wish to do so, collagen powder is most versatile, since it can be added to soups, smoothies or juices.

Collagen supplements can be more expensive – they usually contain mainly collagen, unlike whole foods that contain other nutrients such as vitamin C and zinc, which can help synthesise collagen.

This article was first published in Her World Online.

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