Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Celebration red bean soup: Recipe for a traditional Chinese dessert

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BY JULIE CHENG

Red bean soup is a traditional dessert served at the end of Chinese banquets and family dinners. Photo by Trevor Molag
Red bean soup is a traditional dessert served at the end of Chinese banquets and family dinners. Photo by Trevor Molag

I come from a family of great home cooks, from my grandmother to my dad to my sisters. My mom was a terrible cook, and I take after her. When, in the December issue of the RCC News, I committed to learning to cook red bean soup and one day share it with friends and family, this really was a way for me to discover how to make some traditional Chinese foods from my youth.

Off I went to Chula Vista Grocery, where I found a pack of what I thought was adzuki beans, the main ingredient for this classic dessert that was so often served at the end of many family meals, including Lunar New Year. Good thing I double checked with the owner, because he kindly pointed me to a different package of red beans.

I’m happy to report that I recently served red bean soup at a family dinner to commemorate Dong, a Chinese festival that occurs on the winter solstice, with a recipe adapted from The Woks of Life. I don’t really remember having the orange zest or tapioca from this recipe in my red bean soup over the years, though I do remember my grandmom putting in dried orange peel.

In my own recipe, I substituted rock cane sugar (concentrated sugar cane extract, available at places like Banana Grove), which comes in slabs and has a deeper flavour than regular sugar. The ginger was my own addition. To give this a creamy flavour, I sometimes add a swirl of oat milk in the bowl.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you. If you have your own traditional red bean soup recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Any tips and tricks would be very much appreciated – just email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

Ingredients for Red Bean Soup

(Serves 6 to 8)

1 cup (250 ml) adzuki beans, rinsed then soaked for 8 hours or overnight

2 inches (5 cm) fresh ginger, smashed with back of a knife

6 cups (1.5 l) water

1 slab (2 oz/50 g) cane sugar, or to taste

1 tbsp (15 ml) tapioca pearls (optional)

Oat milk (optional)

1. Rinse then soak 1 cup of adzuki beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. Recipe photos by Julie Cheng
Rinse then soak 1 cup of adzuki beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. Recipe photos by Julie Cheng
Smash 2 inches of fresh ginger with the back of a knife.
Smash 2 inches of fresh ginger with the back of a knife.
Place adzuki beans, ginger and 6 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Place adzuki beans, ginger and 6 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
Remove ginger. With potato masher or immersion blender, blend mixture until desired smoothness.
Remove ginger. With a potato masher or immersion blender, blend mixture until desired smoothness.
Add 1 slab of cane sugar, or to taste.
Add 1 slab of cane sugar, or to taste.
Add tapioca pearls and simmer another 30 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy.
Add tapioca pearls and simmer another 30 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy.
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