Thursday, October 27, 2016

Simple Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert...

The Chinese don't have a lengthy dessert repertoire to our name, but sweet soups are a highly beloved treat. They have been a long tradition throughout China and based on an assortment of ingredients from fruit, nuts such as almond, walnuts and sesame seeds to sweet potatoes, taro root, red beans and mung (green) beans. 

Growing up, my mother prepared small pots of sweetened red bean soup to eat during the day or after dinner and it has been a favourite in our family to this day. Now, she makes a giant pot and devies it in large containers for my siblings and I to take home to enjoy with our own families. Making it is a cinch to do with just five ingredients. Although you can also prepare red bean soup with ingredients like lotus seeds, even kidney beans or cooked with dried tangerine peel, I like to keep mine super simple. Chinese restaurants serve this as a complimentary ending to a dinner meal and popularly at wedding and birthday banquet celebrations to represent the sweetness of life and happiness (and of course red for good luck)! I have to say I feel pretty happy after a nice helping in my belly. And smiles all around on my kids' faces. Now that's pretty sweeet!...

Simple Red Bean Soup Dessert

1-1/2 cups adzuki red beans
1/2 cup green beans (mung beans)
1/4 cup wheat or barley
8 cups water
1/4 cup rock sugar or brown sugar (adjust to taste)

Optional: Add 1 cup coconut milk during the last five minutes of cooking. Adjust with more milk to your preferred consistency and taste.

Rinse the beans; soak as well as wheat in bowls with water over 2-inches to cover for at least six hours or overnight (this allows for softening and swelling). Drain well.

Chinese often use brown sugar slabs or rock sugar to sweeten their desserts.

Adding wheat or barley imparts a chewy texture to contrast the soft beans in the dessert.

Place water in a large pot and add the drained beans. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, adjust the lid to leave a slight crack, and cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender and about half of them have split opened. 

Add the sugar and stir well to dissolve. If using brown sugar pieces, raise the heat to medium and cook for five minutes; if using brown sugar, simply stir well.  Turn off the heat and serve hot. The soup tastes delicious also when cold.

Not only a comfort dessert that is easy to eat, but also high in protein and nutritious!

A perfect nourishing mid-day snack or treat after dinner on a chilly day!

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