Red bean soup, one popular Chinese dessert of the Tangsui group, is served either cold in summer or hot in winter. In Chinese, it is known as “Hong Dou Tang”. And there is another famous Chinese bean soup--mung bean soup which is much popular in hot summer days.
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What's red bean soup
Chinese red bean soup（红豆汤）is made from adzuki beans, also known as red mung beans. These beans are boiled with water, sugar, and dried tangerine until they break down into a thick, creamy consistency. The soup is usually flavored with rock sugar or honey and can be served warm or cold. So it is popular all around the year.
The serving way of red bean soup is slightly different in Asian countries. In Japan and Korea, red bean soup is usually served with rice cake. In China, we serve red bean soup with small sticky rice balls, taro balls, or even grass jelly. Sometimes sago and milk are also added. Some people even enjoy adding pieces of fruit like oranges or mangoes to the soup for an extra burst of sweetness!
About dried tangerine peel
Dried tangerine peel (陈皮) has a very long story in Chinese cooking (back to Song Dynasty). Over hundreds of years, the dried tangerine peel was originally used as a digestive aid and to help relieve nausea. Over time, it evolved into a popular flavor enhancer for many dishes. In Chinese cooking, dried tangerine peel is used primarily to add flavor and aroma to dishes such as soups, stews, stir-fries, and braised meats. It can also be added to desserts such as cakes or ice cream for an extra burst of citrus flavor. Additionally, the dried tangerine peel can be candied or simmered with sugar syrup to make a sweet treat similar to marmalade. We call this "陈皮糖".
Benefits of red bean soup
Red bean soup is not only tasty - it's also healthy! Adzuki beans are high in fiber, which helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. They are also an excellent source of protein and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Plus, since the soup is made with natural ingredients like honey and rock sugar rather than processed white sugar, it contains fewer calories than many other desserts. In Chinese traditional medicine, red bean soup can be used to remove the coldness in the body and fight against constipation. This healthy soup can be served as a hot soup in winter and also as a cool dessert in hot summer. Red bean soup is believed to be one of the most beneficial soups in China. The Chinese version of red bean soup is lighter than the Japanese version. And there are in fact lots of varieties by adding other side ingredients into the healthy soup. Some common ingredients to match with red bean soup are dates, lotus seeds and sago, coconut milk, and longan.
How to cook red bean soup
The best herb and spice for red bean soup is dried tangerine peel (called Chen pi). It is a beneficial herb with a warming portrayal. By adding the fried tangerine peel, except for the beneficial efforts about indigestion and diarrhea, a very unique flavor is also added. If you love authentic Cantonese Hengshui, stick with it. However, you and also skip this ingredient if the taste is not that welcome to you.
The best tool for powdering red bean soup is a high-pressure cooker. Even without the soaking process, the beans can be well cooked within 30 minutes. However, if you want to cook it in a regular pot, here is a special procedure to speed up the process and make the beans even softer.
- Presoak the buns overnight.
- Place the bean in the pot with water. Bring all the content to a boil and then continue to boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the fire and let the beans cool down slowly. Then restart the fire and continue simmering. The beans should be quite soft after 30 minutes of simmering. Then season with sugar.
How to serve red bean soup
You can directly serve it directly as a soup or serve it with add ons for example sticky rice cake or sago.
Serve with small sticky rice balls
Mix ½ cup sticky rice flour with ¼ cup water. Knead well to form a dough.
Shape the dough into a long log and then divide it into 30 small portions and round each into a ball. Next time, cook the sticky rice balls in hot boiling water for 5-6 minutes.
Transfer the sticky rice balls to serving bowls with red bean soup.
Serve with sago
How to cook sago: cook the sago with boiling water for around 10 minutes and then set it aside with the lid covered for around 15 to 20 minutes until the becomes transparent. The white hearts of sago should almost disappear when cooked.
In order to remove the sticky feeling of cooked sago, we need to rinse it in cold water for at least 1 minute.
Then add coconut milk and sago. Heat for another 2 minutes. Mix well.
Red bean soup from red bean paste
There is a super quick shortcut version of making red bean soup - from a premade red bean paste. If you have red bean paste on hand, this soup can be finished within 10 minutes.
Red Bean Soup Recipe
- 1.5 cup red beans ,azuki beans
- 6 cups water ,5 cups for high pressure cooker
- 3 tbsp. rock sugar or to taste
- 1 piece dried tangerine peel
Serve with sago
- ½ cup sago
- 1 cup coconut milk , or milk
Serve with small mochi or sticky rice balls
- ½ cup sticky rice flour
- ¼ cup warm water
- Pre-soak the azuki beans in water overnight if you are using ordinary cooker. For high pressure cooker, soaking process is not a must but also recommended.
- Put rock sugar, soaked beans, water and orange peels in a large pot. Bring all the content to a boil and then cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the fire and let the beans cool down slightly, with the lid covered. Then re-start the fire and continue simmer for 30 minutes until the beans are completely soft. Season with sugar.
Serve the sago
- How to cook sago: cook the sago with boiling water for around 10 minutes and then set it aside with the lid covered for around 15 to 20 minutes until the becomes transparent. The white hearts of sago should almost disappear when cooked.
- In order to remove the sticky feeling of cooked sago, we need to rinse it in cold water for at least 1 minute.
- Then add coconut milk and sago. Heat for another 2 minutes. Mix well.
Serve with small sticky rice balls
- Mix sticky rice flour with water. Knead well and then divide into 30 small portions and round each into a ball. Next time, cook the sticky rice balls in hot boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Transfer the sticky rice balls to serving bowls with red bean soup.