How To Make Red Bean Dessert Soup

How To Make Red Bean Dessert Soup

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Growing up, a bowl of red bean soup provided a satisfying coda to so many delicious meals at Chinese restaurants. Now that we’re all cooking for our own families, I’m happy to share that red bean soup is easy enough to make at home for our own holiday celebrations.

Red bean soup is a type of tong sui, or sweet Cantonese dessert soup. Like most Chinese desserts, red bean soup isn’t overpoweringly sweet. Rather, it has a subtle, pleasing sweetness that’s perfect for rounding off a big Chinese meal.

To make red bean soup at home, you need just a couple of special ingredients, red adzuki beans and Chinese rock sugar, both of which are available at any Chinese market for a couple of bucks apiece. This simple foundation produces a soup with flavors that are cleaner and brighter than what you’ll find at the restaurant.

While red bean soup is easy to make, it does require a fair amount of time. Three hours to soak the beans and then another couple of hours to cook. I like to say it’s a perfect project to undertake when A Few Good Men is on TBS, because both will take an entire afternoon.

Here’s how to make red bean soup, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.

Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!


Red Bean Soup Recipe

Makes: 1 Pot | Prep Time: 3 Hours | Cook Time: 2 Hours
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups red adzuki beans
1/2 cup Chinese rock sugar
6 cups water
2 tablespoons tapioca pearls
1/4 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

Directions

1. Soak the red beans in cold water for 3 hours.

2. Discard the soaking water, then put the beans in a medium pot and cover with 6 cups of water.

3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove 1 cup of soup and blend with a hand blender. Return the blended soup to the main pot.

5. Add the rock sugar and orange zest, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tapioca pearls and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tapioca pearls are translucent.

5. During the last phase of simmering, add up to 1 cup of additional water to achieve your desired consistency. Serve immediately.


Step-By-Step Tutorial

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Start by gathering your ingredients. It’s a short list! Just red adzuki beans, Chinese rock sugar, tapioca pearls and an orange (if you like).

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Soak the red beans in cold water for 3 hours.

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Discard the soaking water, then put the beans in a medium pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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After 1 hour, the beans should start to “look and feel right,” that is, they should be breaking down, but still somewhat firm. At this stage, the soup looks done, but you’ll notice it doesn’t taste right — there’s no sweetness to the beans themselves.

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Remove 1 cup of soup and blend with a hand blender, then return the blended soup to the main pot.

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Add the rock sugar and orange zest, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tapioca pearls and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tapioca pearls are translucent.

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During the last phase of simmering, add up to 1 cup of additional water to achieve your desired consistency. Serve immediately.

HT: Recipe adapted from The Hong Kong Cookery.

4 Responses

  1. Hi, nice recipe.
    I really like this soup, but I don’t want to use sugar, as I have completely left white sugar…
    What else can I use to make it slightly sweet…except brown sugar, white sugar, rock sugar, etc. Any other alternative?
    And what else can I add in this to make it more healthy?

    • Hi Zufei, thanks for your question. You can certainly use another sweetener, such as honey or maltose syrup, if you want to stay away from sugar. You’ll probably notice a flavor and texture difference, but those could be reasonable alternatives. Please let me know what you find! ~Wes

  2. charmaine

    hi. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Would like to ask why the need to blend a cup of the soup with beans?

    • Wes Radez

      Hi Charmaine, blending a cup of the beans thickens the soup a bit. It’s not a required step — if you don’t blend the beans, the soup just has more whole pieces in it, which some people prefer. Up to you! ~Wes