Red bean soup

First of all, apologies for abandoning the blog for such a long time! December has been a mad flurry of work, job applications, and more work. And it didn’t help that I managed to get the flu during this time – believe me when I say it is very hard to work when you’re all sniffly, have lost your voice, and have blocked ears. But I’m back now (still sniffly but much better), and that is what matters. 🙂

I’m not exactly sure why, but I always get homesick when I’m ill or stressed. And in the last few weeks, I’ve really wished I could just hop on a plane and go home. However it’s never as easy as that, so I have to find ways to “relieve” the homesick-ness.

One dish that always reminds me of home is red (adzuki) bean soup, which I grew up eating. One sip of this humble soup or “tong shui” is enough to transport me back to my childhood, and back to Malaysia. At any rate, it has remained one of my favourite comfort foods (alongside tang yuan), and I make it everytime I miss home, or when it’s cold. Which actually translates into me making it pretty regularly…..

The beauty about this dessert/tong shui is how simple it is to make. Like many traditional Chinese recipes, this is done by “feel” and estimation. I’ve personally never used a recipe for this, and have just thrown everything together – and it has always worked out. Always. I’ve included a simple recipe at the end of the post which can be used as a guide, but rest assured you do not need to stick to it religiously.

To be on the safe side and be certain that the beans will soften, you should soak your red beans overnight. Strangely enough, the red beans I buy from Chinatown don’t need to be soaked overnight, but the ones I buy from non-Asian grocery stores (e.g. Tesco, Waitrose) have to be soaked. So, I only buy them from Chinatown now, as I never plan that far ahead when it comes to this!

I also highly recommend using some sort of mandarin/orange peel in the soup. It adds a great citrus tang to the soup, and in my opinion elevates it to another level.

I do hope you try making this, it’s simple and makes for a delicious dessert – regardless if you serve it hot, warm, or cold!

Red bean soup

  • 1 cup red (adzuki) beans
  • 2 tablespoons dried longans (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mandarin peel – alternatively, use 3-4 pieces of fresh mandarin/orange peel
  • 1 piece of rock sugar (approx 5x7cm) – alternatively, use 1/3 cup sugar
  • 7 cups water

Add all the ingredients into a pot, slow cooker or rice cooker. Slow cook (over low heat if using a pot on the stove) for 2-3 hours, or until the beans turn deliciously soft and mushy. That’s it – told you it was easy. 🙂

* If you wish, you can add some tapioca pearls (sago) to this – simply cook 1 cup of tapioca pearls in hot boiling water (in a seperate pan). When they turn translucent, add them to the red bean soup, and you’re good to go!

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25 thoughts on “Red bean soup”

  1. Mmmm.. i love red bean soup. You demystified it for me because i knew there was something citrusy (in the good versions) but i didn’t know it was dried mandarin peel. I’ll take a bowl with sago, please! 🙂

  2. Su-yin! Glad to see you back in action — in full throttle!

    Oh, I love azuki bean soup too! For winter solstice, I made azuki bean paste-filled tong yuin in azuki bean soup! Great minds think alike! Here’s mine:

    Azuki Bean Paste-Filled Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls, Served in Sweet Azuki Bean Soup 紅豆沙湯圓

    BUT, I haven’t found time to blog about this! Bummer! =S

    I sometimes zip things up with either dried mandarin peel or pandan leaves. Either way, it always turns out great!

    Alright, enjoy the rest of 2010! Take care and stay warm, K? Happy New Year ahead to you!

    Warmest regards from KL.

  3. Hi Su-Yin. I read your About Me and wow, I’m from Malaysia too ! Anyway, mandarin peels really make red bean soup extra tasty ! By the way, try blending red bean soup with some ice, it’s really good !

  4. this is something different, i never had red bean soup with dried longan beforer but looks really nice. I will keep in mind to add them the next time i make red bean soup. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I have been looking for this recipe for a long time but I never knew what it was called and just by happenstance your blog showed up on FoodPress 🙂

    I will definitely try this because it is soooo easy. 🙂

  6. This is one of my favourites! I agree with you that those from Tesco/Sainsbury/Waitrose need soaking before! I also buy from Chinatown – they are like the red beans back home 😉

  7. I use brown sugar or palm sugar and drizzle with half and half before serving. Also great way to substitute sweet potato instead of the red beans… wonderful cold as well.

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