Red Bean Soup
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese banquet, you’ve had it. Red Bean Soup is one of the most iconic Chinese desserts and for a good reason. Its subtle sweetness and smooth texture is the perfect ending to any meal.
What Is It?
Contrary to its name, red bean soup is a dessert, not an appetizer! It’s a popular type of Chinese dessert called ‘tong sui’ which translates to ‘sugar water’ or sweet soup. Tong sui is more common in Cantonese cuisine rather than other Chinese cuisines.
The main ingredients are, of course, red bean, rock sugar and orange peel. The rock sugar is optional if you prefer less sweet since the orange peel will provide some natural sweetness.
You can eat it hot or cold, although it’s most commonly served warm. Leftover soup can also be frozen to make ice pops and is a popular dessert.
There are many different types of sweet dessert soups like this one. Other ones include:
- Black Sesame Soup – ground black sesame mixed with water and rock sugar
- Doufuhua – tofu pudding served with a sweet syrup
- Sai Mai Lo – sago or tapioca pearls cooked in coconut and evaporated milk with taro
- Sweet Almond Soup – ground almonds cooked with sugar and water
Red Bean in Other Desserts
If you haven’t tried red bean soup, you might have tried other similar desserts.
It is one of the most popular flavours in the world of Asian desserts. There is red bean flavoured ice cream, buns, mochi and many more!
The Japanese have their own version of red bean soup too. The main difference is they add mochi to their version.
Red Bean Soup Recipe
- 2 cups dried red beans
- 8 cups water
- ½ cup rock sugar
- ¼ tsp orange zest
- 2-3 tbsp tapioca pearls or sago, (optional)
- Rinse your beans under cold water. Then soak the beans in water for at least 8 hours or overnight. If you are using an instant pot, skip this step.
- When the beans are rehydrated and soft, drain them and transfer to a medium-sized pot. If you are using an instant pot, put the beans into your instant pot.
- Add 6 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. For the instant pot, pressure cook at high pressure for 30 minutes + 20 minutes natural release.
- After, the beans should be soft enough to squish between your fingers. Use an immersion blender to blend until they are broken up. You can blend more if you prefer a smoother red bean soup.
- Transfer the blended mixture back into the pot. Add in the sugar and orange zest. Stir over medium-high heat and dissolve the sugar. For the instant pot, bring the red bean soup to a boil using the "Saute High" function. Let it boil for 15 - 20 minutes until desired thickness. Add in your sugar and orange zest and stir occasionally. For a more soupy consistency, add in more water.
- This step is optional if you want tapioca in it. Add in the tapioca pearls and cook until the pearls become translucent, about 20 minutes.
- Scoop into serving bowls and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!