A sweet summer touch: Chinese mung bean soup

Society & Culture

Mung beans are considered to have a cooling effect in Chinese food philosophy, helping reduce body heat, clear toxins, and prevent heat-related ailments like heat rash or heatstroke.

Mung bean soup, chilled
All photos by Lu Zhao

No summer is complete without Chinese mung bean soup (绿豆汤 lǜ dòu tāng). When I was growing up there was always a big pot of it in the fridge waiting for me after a hot day of play. The soothing, cooling, sweet taste almost represents my childhood summer memories.

Mung beans are small beans with green skin considered to have a cooling effect in Chinese food philosophy, helping reduce body heat, clear toxins, and prevent heat-related ailments like heat rash or heatstroke. Mung beans are also a good source of fiber and protein.

Mung beans are often seen in China’s sweet dishes, especially during the summer, such as ice cream or mooncakes. Although we’re making soup today, you can also freeze it and make it into popsicles!

mengniu green mood
Mengniu’s mung bean popsicles are one of my favorites.

 

You’ll find many recipes telling you to add a list of ingredients, pre-soak, and use a pressure cooker or instant pot. Today I’ll teach you the quickest way to cook mung bean soup on the stove without pre-soaking beans. And you only need three ingredients: mung beans, water, and sugar. My mom always uses rock sugar (冰糖 bīng táng), but I’ll just go for the most accessible one — white sugar.

YIELD

Serves 4

TIME

40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup mung beans
  •  1/4 cup sugar, to taste
  •  8 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash and drain 1 cup of mung beans.
  2. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil.
  3. Put mung beans in a separate large pot with enough water to submerge the beans, and bring to a boil. Don’t cover the pot. Let it boil at high heat until the water is almost boiled dry.
  4. Pour in 8 cups of boiled water; when the water boils again, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans soften and open up. Keep an eye on the pot in case the soup boils over.

soften beans

5. Add 1/4 cup of sugar to taste and stir well until sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat.

6. Refrigerate the soup for about 2 hours or until chilled.

7. Stir well and serve cold.

final result


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