“Superfood” is a buzzword that has been recurring among the increasingly health-conscious local population these days, and is a label that seems almost casually thrown onto everything from berries to broccoli. While there is no one true superfood, we should still incorporate some of these candidates into our diet. This includes the humble, but still very much super, spinach.
More than just a necessary vegetable supplement to dishes, spinach holds a ton of nutrients in a wispy low-calorie form, and is a fantastic source of iron and magnesium. Despite its health benefits, those looking for a healthy meal alternative may not want to nibble on cold salads 24/7 to get their daily dose of the vegetable. This thus brings us to the latest trend to hit major hawker centres around the island: spinach soup.
Unlike spinach salads, spinach soup fills the specific niche of providing a more affordable and accessible alternative for those looking to ingest more of this superfood. Moreover, whether it is as a healthy broth accompaniment, or a spinach-centric dish, spinach soup is imbued with the comfort of familiar flavours and preparation style. The result is a healthy invigorating dish that is more forgiving on palates unseasoned by the cold rawness of Western salad bowls.
JIA LE YONG TAU FOO
A new addition to the bustling Our Tampines Hub, this branch of Jia Le Yong Tau Foo is one of the latest introductions to the growing spinach soup hawker convergence in Singapore. While not specialising solely in spinach soups, the stall prominently features spinach as the key ingredient of its signature broth. A staple in its own right, the stall uses the subtle flavours of spinach to add a natural sweetness to the broth without incurring the fishy salinity of using seafood alternatives like anchovies
If you are a tad apprehensive about having spinach soup alone, having a place that sells authentic spinach soup alongside yong tau foo pickings makes the entire process less intimidating. Worried about a deluge of vegetables? Just add a few cubes of fishcakes, or other preferred goodies to even out the ratio! Or if you are undecided, get a bowl of both spinach soup and add in the preselected yong tau foo items for truly lavish and gratifying meal experience.
If you are in the vicinity, we suggest trying the classic Spinach & Century Egg Soup (S$3.80) to get a full appreciation of flavours present. The cubes of century eggs not only help to intensify the innate taste profile of the soup, but help thicken it to give a more satisfying fuller-bodied consistency as well. Moreover, this modest dish is certified by the HPB as being a healthier choice alternative – not only are you rewarded with your daily intake of fibre, you get your fill of protein too from the sizable chunks of lean meat and century eggs.
1 Tampines Walk
Hawker Centre @ Our Tampines Hub, #01-32
Daily: 10am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Tampines
** Multiple outlets islandwide.
Photo Credit: https://www.burpple.com/@LaQueso
Squirrelled away in Shenton House in the CBD, Mouthful Cafe is a hidden gem for those looking for a less seafood-centric version of spinach soup. Popular with the local working crowd, regulars constantly tout the place for having an affordable and accessible healthy lunch option. If you wish to stop by, do so earlier on rainy days – many others are looking for the same warm comfort of indulging in a decently priced hearty soup!
The pairing of fish over seafood with spinach means that the stock retains a more savoury than sweet tinge, and without the overly briny profile that is characteristic of certain shellfishes. No less complex in flavour layers versus its seafood counterparts, the soup here is especially light and easy on the gut, making it a go-to for those with a more sensitive disposition.
When visiting, we suggest trying their classic Fish Spinach Soup (S$4). The thick chunks of fish go swimmingly with spinach and the smooth stock, and are especially delightful when paired with the similarly silken kway chap (S$0.50), or thick flat rice noodles. For a more substantial option, try the Double Fish Spinach Fish Soup (S$6) for the yin-yang experience of both steamed and fried fish. As an added bonus, you can request for milk to be added into the broth – yes, the spinach tastes even more heavenly as a result! – to give the dish an even creamier touch.
3 Shenton Way
Shenton House, #02-10
Daily: 10am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Downtown
Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/lifeislikeacoin/
NEW SHOP SPINACH SOUP
Hidden in Balestier Food Centre is a new spinach soup stall; no, really, it is literally called New Shop Spinach Soup. This stall is impossible to miss with its spotlights-lit and bright green-on-green stall front. Besides its tongue-in-cheek name, what caught our eye is the novel choice of seafood toppings available. If you ever wanted a truly opulent experience of having lobsters with spinach soup without breaking your wallet, then this is the place for you.
Given the owners’ background in seafood, there is no surprise that customers return for the affordably priced fresh shellfishes. For under S$20, you can have the pleasure of indulging in either one or two full-sized (S$13.80 and S$18.80 respectively) Australian lobsters. This version is perfect if you are a fan of super savoury soups: the natural essence of the lobsters and the roe infuse the broth with an intense umami flavour against a subtle hue of sweetness from the freshness of the shellfishes.
If lobsters are a tad too decadent a treat for a casual meal, or if you prefer other types of seafood, New Shop Spinach Soup has a variety of other equally delicious options available. For a simple yet tasty choice, go for the classic Spinach Egg Soup (S$4) to enjoy the creamy melt-in-your-mouth briny consistency of century egg bits against tender stalks of spinach. If you still want some seafood, go for the more economical, but no less luxurious Spinach Seafood Soup (S$6.80).
411 Balestier Road
Balestier Food Centre, Stall 4
Daily: 11am – 10pm
Nearest Station: Toa Payoh
NTU FUN MEALS
When you are in a university environment, with all the temptations of fast food and other similarly convenient but unfortunately unhealthy food options, it can be easy to let your diet derail. Especially with the metabolism of youth on your side, maintaining a healthy balanced eating habit may be the furthest thing from your mind. Likewise, if you are part of the teaching staff, watching students indulge in sinful treats can make it that much harder to stick to your dietary regime.
Thankfully, there are several options in the NTU campus for those looking to keep to a healthier eating lifestyle. In the courtyard of North Spine is a cluster of food stalls that sits a floor below Lee Wee Nam Library (if you are still having trouble finding it, it’s near the Prime Supermarket in the same building). Serving a variety of local delicacies, the stall of our focus today is called Fun Meals, which doles up comforting bowls of spinach soup to the busy student and teaching crowd.
Naysayers may scoff at the namesake, wondering how a dish as simple as bland as spinach soup can be considered a “fun meal” in any respect. What this stall seeks to provide is an accessible healthy alternative that is no less palatable than other local treats. The broth is mild and clear, but holds within it the characteristic sweetness of spinach that makes it the perfect choice for those looking to rejuvenate after a long and warm day. Although a tad pricey at over S$5, customers can be assured of the ingredients’ quality; the seafood is fresh and crunchy, and the tofu add-on is a refreshing soft silken treat.
50 Nanyang Ave,
Mon to Fri: 9am to 8pm
Sat: 9am to 3pm
Nearest Station: Pioneer
Photo Credit: Andrew Lee @ Google Maps Reviews
OLD STREET SPINACH SOUP
Found in the popular Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, Old Street Spinach Soup stands out from the crowd by offering a healthier meal choice amidst the throngs of higher-calorie options. Despite a multitude of alternatives available, Old Street Spinach Soup has remained a choice pick for residents in the area for its home-cooked styled sweet-savoury broth and quality ingredients.
Proud of its staple ingredient, the cheery storefront doles out a quick-fire list of the benefits of spinach – with purported effects including lowering blood pressure and improving circulation among others – to the unconvinced. All the while, customers in the typically long queues can have an unobstructed view of the vibrant plumage of leafy vegetables awaiting the chef’s attention.
The signature soup option here is served with century egg (S$3.80), and turns what is typically a standalone vegetable dish in Chinese restaurants into a full-blown meal packed with proteins and nutrients. For those craving even more protein, the seafood version (S$3.80) comes with pork, shrimps, and egg for the ultimate healthy protein-packed meal to satiate even the most ravenous among us.
208 New Upper Changi Road
Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre, #01-53
Daily: 8am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Bedok
** Multiple outlets islandwide.
Photo Credit: https://www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore/spinach-soup-tanjong-pagar-raffles-place-01-93/
SPINACH & SOUP
Sitting along the peripheries of the CBD is the lesser-known Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre. Serving both the CBD crowd and residents of the surrounding estate, it is a more familiar respite for many away from the rows of swanky bars and eateries that line the area. With a staggering number of stalls, there is no shortage of food options; this also means that those that survive the fierce competition thrive simply because they serve excellent food.
Easily identifiable by its leaf-sprinkled banner and caricature of Popeye holding his beloved can of spinach, Spinach & Soup offers 4 soup options (S$4) – including a fully vegetarian one – for diners looking for a healthier choice. Unlike other places that subsist on using yellow beans or anchovies to bolster the flavours of the spinach broth, Spinach & Soup adds a substantial amount of wolfberries (goji berries) instead to complement and enhance the sweetness of its stock.
Although the more common options of seafood (Set A) and century egg (Set B) are yummy in their own right, we suggest going for Set C instead: a spinach and wolfberries base with a handful of springy lobster balls and fish tofu slices, topped off with a sprinkling of crispy fried ikan bilis. Besides the toppings being a departure from the norm, they add a textural variance by segmenting mouthfuls of smooth and soft spinach with the occasional chewiness.
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre, #02-34
Mon to Sat: 11am – 8pm
(Closed on Sundays)
Nearest Station: Tanjong Pagar
** Multiple outlets islandwide.
Photo Credit: https://www.burpple.com/@Jessica8x3
SPINACH SOUP (AMOY STREET FOOD CENTRE)
One of the most popular places to get spinach soup at, this humble stall serves a meandering queue even during off-peak hours. Unlike other places, the owners choose to use chicken bones as the base for their broth instead of beans or anchovies. Thus, you get a soup that is just as savoury as the other alternatives, but without the sharp bites of salinity that is normally associated with anchovies, and a much smoother texture than when using yellow beans.
How does one determine if a particular place is worth dining at? While there are many standards to judge a place on, a good indicator is when the stall continues to pull in a considerable crowd despite a limited menu. At Spinach Soup, there are only two items on the menu – Spinach Seafood Soup and Spinach Century & Salted Egg – of which both are available for just S$3.50 each.
The former features a mixture of minced pork and prawns alongside spinach, mushrooms, and a garnishing of wolfberries. What makes this seafood variant more interesting than the run-of-the-mill version is the flavour mix of prawn and chicken in the broth: the more intense brine of the prawns doesn’t overwhelm, but instead augments the original savoury base of chicken stock, creating a multi-layered flavour that is unique to the brand. The latter is deserving of a sampling of its own as well – this creamier version is especially rich courtesy of the infusion from the literal trio of eggs, and coats the delicate spinach in a luscious golden finish.
7 Maxwell Road
Amoy Street Food Centre, #02-114
Mon to Fri: 11am – 2pm
(Closed on Saturdays & Sundays)
Nearest Station: Tanjong Pagar
SPINACH SOUP (TAMPINES FOOD PARK)
Another relatively new addition to the spinach soup collective, Spinach Soup at Tampines Food Park has built up a considerable following of young and old customers alike. While this muted yet soothing dish is normally associated with the older generations, the surge of health consciousness in Singapore today means more youths and adults alike are partial to picking healthier choices like spinach soup as well.
This stall in particular, sees a balanced mix of working professionals and students to supplement its older crowd. This phenomenon is not by chance – unlike the placements of most other spinach soup stalls, this one rests in the middle of a residential hub, and is surrounded by multiple educational institutions. It is not that spinach soup is an old person dish; a significant portion of the population is willing to include it in their diets, but only if there is a palatable and accessible option nearby.
What keeps Spinach Soup in contention despite the competition is how their soups are delightfully savoury despite being made au naturale. By using only fresh ingredients, the owners ensure that their soup remain flavourful without needing the addition of any MSG or artificial seasonings. The result is a light broth made substantial by the sheer amount of greens and ingredients – the tofu skin items are especially silken and tasty – present that fills one up even in the absence of carbs.
823A Tampines Street 81
Food Park, #01-02, Stall 3B
Daily: 10am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Tampines West
Photo Credit: https://www.burpple.com/@bellyhappyy
SPINACH YONG TAU FOO SOUP
Another chain that has seen a considerable proliferation with this new wave of health consciousness in Singapore, Spinach Yong Tau Foo Soup serves up a nourishing bowl of tender greens mixed with a variety of appetising handmade yong tau foo bites for S$4. What keeps this brand at the forefront of hawker diners is not just the quality of yong tau foo items provided, but its soup.
Famed for not just using an abundance of spinach to flavour their broths, Spinach Yong Tau Foo Soup is equally heavy-handed with their use of yellow beans to create an unparalleled sweet-savoury profile. As delicious as the broth already is on its own, it can be further enhanced with the raw freshness of finely chopped spring onions, and a dusting of aromatic fried shallots for the ultimate flavour experience!
If you are worried about the presence of fried yong tau foo items rendering this dish more unhealthy than not, worry not! Unlike other places that use premade frozen yong tau foo items, the ones here are made daily from scratch, and do not have a cloying oily sheen despite their crispness. Furthermore, with the copious amount of spinach given, the onus is on you to finish your greens and not just the more sinful items! (Pst, if you do want a more indulgent option, Spinach Yong Tau Foo Soup is one of the few places that offers a lor mee variant. And yes, it comes with a bowl of spinach soup on the side too!)
Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6
Block 724 Market & Food Centre, #01-40
Daily: 8am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Ang Mo Kio
** Multiple outlets islandwide.