Chinese Red Bean Soup - A healthy, nutritious snack or dessert.

I often get asked what a typical Chinese dessert is, and while there are numerous delicious Chinese pastries and cakes, a more common finish to a meal is fresh fruit or a small bowl of a sweet soup. Sweet soups, as well as the fillings for small pastries and buns, are often made from a bean or seed paste. Beans? Seeds? Sweet? Sounds strange, but it tastes really good and these pastes can be made from lotus seeds, Chinese small red beans or aduki beans (the Japanese term for the same red bean), mung or small "green" beans, or black sesame seeds, for example. And even better yet, each of these ingredients can also be used as a , so each has unique properties to benefit one's health.

Chinese Red Bean Soup Recipe

 Here's the recipe for a Sweet Red Bean (aduki) Soup, but the red beans can be substituted with mung beans (little green beans), or half of each can be used together. You can find these beans at most grocery stores and Asian stores. The dried tangerine peel can be found in Asian stores (not the candied kind), or ask your local with a ! :-P


  • 1½ cup small Chinese red beansChinese Red Bean Soup
  • 1 sm piece of "chen pi" = dried tangerine peel, or 1 small strip fresh orange peel
  • 2 quarts water
    • I usually begin with 2 qts of water and add more boiling water as needed to prevent the soup from getting too thick.
  • Approximately ½ cup rock sugar or other sweetener; to taste. (See some other sweetener options in the Chinese Nut Soup recipe.)


  1. Rinse and drain the red beans.
  2. Add chen pi/dried tangerine peel to 2 qts of water.
  3. Bring to a boil, add red beans and simmer until beans are tender and soft (about 3-4 hrs). Stir occasionally.
  4. As it is cooking, it may be necessary to add more water to keep it from getting too thick (See the "consistency" note below.)
    1. [If you're using a slow cooker, add boiling water, tangerine peel, and beans to the slow cooker. Cook for 4-5 hours until beans are tender.]
  5. Add rock sugar (or other sweetener) to taste.
  6. Serve warm or cold, and for an even more delicious option, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
  7. Refrigerate left over.


The consistency of this soup varies according to taste. For example, I like it when the beans have begun to break down and the liquid is slightly thicker. Or I'll blend half of the soup and add it back in to the whole mixture, so that I still have the texture of the beans, but a thicker overall soup. Some prefer this soup thinner in consistency where the beans are still whole and the liquid is still, well ... liquidy.

Herbal properties:

Chinese red beans (small), aka: aduki beans, "chi xiao dou" or "hong dou" (Chinese pin yin name); Pharmaceutical name = Semen phaseoli
It's Chinese energetic properties are sweet, sour and neutral. It's Chinese therapeutic actions include: 1) Promotes diuresis and reduces swelling for conditions characterized by the accumulation of water (such as edema or ascites); 2) Clears heat, damp-heat, eliminates toxins & drains pus especially in dermatological disorders (acne, sores, carbuncles - stronger therapeutic effect when applied topically).

Mung beans, aka: "green beans" "lu dou" (Chinese pin yin name); Pharmaceutical name = Semen phaseoli radiati
It's Chinese energetic properties are sweet and cold. The Chinese therapeutic actions include: 1) Clears heat & toxins from the exterior of the body, such as carbuncles, sores, and ulcers; 2) Dispels Summer-heat and relieves thirst - it is a effective to prevent heat stroke during the summer season and is often eaten as a food/dessert in the summertime to relieve thirst, clear heat, alleviate restlessness, and lower body temperature. [Use this with caution for individuals who may have internal cold.]

Chen pi = dried tangerine peel; Pharmaceutical name = Pericarpium citri reticulatae
It's Chinese energetic properties are acrid, bitter and warm. The Chinese therapeutic actions include: 1) Regulates qi, especially that of the middle burner, thus treating disharmony of the Spleen and Stomach qi (nausea, vomiting, abdominal fullness, bloating, indigestion, etc); 2) Dries dampness and dissolves phlegm, also of the middle burner; 2) Relieves cough.

*The above therapeutic properties have been generalized and this is not medical advice. Please consult a practitioner if you have any questions.

This is a flexible recipe, so play around with it and find a consistency, texture & sweetness that you like! It makes a healthy snack or dessert—enjoy!

Feel free to post any suggestions, modifications or comments. Thanks!

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