Chinese Red Bean Soup Dessert


Gong Hey Fat Choy! It’s the Year of the Horse — my year! To all the other horses out there: do you feel like you embody the traits of the equine zodiac sign? I feel like I do… sociable, witty, headstrong, independent, unable to stay focused on any one thing for too long… wait, what was I talking about again?

Ah yes, I was going to post a scrumptious vegan recipe in honor of Chinese New Year. Last year I presented you with Baked Nian Gao, a traditional sticky rice cake but in an easy, quick, baked version. It was a huge hit with my family and friends and this year I’ve made a quadruple batch of that recipe to bring in to all my kids’ classrooms so they can celebrate the New Year with their friends at school.

Today I give you another traditional Chinese recipe using sweetened red bean paste and once again, I offer you a simpler, faster way of preparing a classic. This soup is often served as dessert and like almost all Chinese desserts, it is subtly sweet and the perfect ending to a savory Chinese New Year meal. Even better, it’s simple to make! Instead of using whole Adzuki beans and waiting for them to cook down, I use a can of red bean paste… the same stuff I use for my Baked Nian Gao. So now a dessert that you normally need to start cooking the night before you want to serve it, can be made in a couple of hours. As a mom of three little kids, I rarely have the forethought to plan a meal, much less a dessert, 24 hours in advance so this quick(er) recipe is just the ticket. Using the bean paste also automatically sweetens the soup but you can add more sugar to taste if you’d like.

You’ll probably need to head to your neighborhood Asian market for most of these items.

Here’s the lineup:

  • one can of sweetened red bean paste (Adzuki beans)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • 1 strip dried tangerine or orange peel
  • 1/2 cup dried lotus seeds
  • vegan sugar to taste (optional)

Sweetened red bean paste

Sweetened red bean paste


Dried lotus seeds

Dried tangerine peel

Dried tangerine peel

Place your dried lotus seeds in a bowl of room temperature water for a couple of hours before you’re ready to make your soup. Make sure the seeds are completely submerged.

In a soup pot, bring 6 cups of water and the strip of tangerine peel to a boil.

The tangerine peel lends a warm, citrus tone to the soup stock

The tangerine peel lends a warm, but bright citrus tone to the soup stock

Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the red bean paste and (drained) lotus seeds. Simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until the bean paste has dissolved almost completely into the water. Use a wooden spoon to press the paste against the sides of the pot to aid in the dissolving  process.

Taste the soup and add sugar if desired. You can also add more water to make the soup thinner if you’d like. Serve hot!




Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Eating!