Wednesday 16 March 2011

NCR Adzuki bean soup and firsts

Sylvia going through a spate of firsts - first sticking plaster (bandaid), first reaction to an insect bite, first grazed knees, first bruise from a drawer falling on her foot (and I hope the last), first grown up jigsaw without the knobs, first time turning on the microwave (when I key in the time), first time putting the key in the car keyhole (with my guidance), first time blowing a kiss, first piggy back, first kiddies television program at home.

The television program we chose for her was The Clangers. It is an old BBC children's series about pink knitted characters who make funny noises. Sylvia was vaguely interested but not won over. She had a quick look but she had important things to do - puzzles and putting dolly in her little cot. When she did watch the screen she mostly wanted to stand close enough to touch it. The part that she enjoyed most was the soup dragon who dishes out soup to the Clangers.

Last week in our house, I was the soup dragon dishing out Adzuki and Vegetable Soup to E and me. I spent an evening simmering the beans - three hours and they were still not soft. In desperation I blitzed them with the hand held blender. I came back the next day expecting to throw it out but it somehow was rather edible. The soup - served with a dollop of yoghurt, parsley and a slice of challah - was a hearty flavoursome sludge. Worth dragging my stockpot out of the bedroom in the middle of kitchen renovations.

So you see I had an adzuki bean crisis. It is not a bean with which I am familiar. When I started to look I found them nowhere to be seen and I finally found "seda" beans from El Savador in Casa Iberica.

I am a little unsure what to do with the rest of the bag. Why did the beans seem inedible on the night of cooking and quite tasty the second night? Did they soften overnight? Was 8-12 hours enough soaking for the beans? Does it make a difference to simmer the beans with stock powder? Should I throw them out? Do I have time to experiment further? Since then I have found adzuki beans in Min Phat Grocery at the Queen Vic Market. Next time I might try these - because I need a stash for facon.

I am sending this soup to Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen for No Croutons Required , the vegetarian soup and salad blog event that she runs with Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes. Lisa chose whole adzuki beans or mung beans for this month. (NB I would have taken a photo of the soup with whole beans but I despaired of the beans cooking and lost my confidence in it.)

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Bread pudding and smoothies for vegie kids
This time three years ago: WHB: In Search of the Nectarine

Adzuki beans and vegetable soup
adapted from Entertaining with Cranks
serves 4 as a main course

1 cup dried adzuki beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp ground cumin
dash chilli powder
10 cups water, or as needed
1 tin diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp vegetable stock powder
1-2 leeks, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
dash of smoke paprika
handful of chopped parsley
yoghurt and extra parsley, to serve

Soak adzuki beans overnight. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a stockpot and fry onion for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and fry for 1 minute. Then add cumin powder and dash of chilli powder. Fry 1 minute. Add water, tomato paste and stock powder. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 1 hour or until beans are almost cooked.

Add leeks, carrot, celery and smoke paprika. Boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until beans are cooked and vegetables are soft (I think I did 2 hours and still wasn't happy). If desired, blend using a hand held blender. (This helped when I felt beans weren't soft enough.) Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

To serve stir through parsley and ladle into soup bowls. Spoon a generous dollop of yoghurt into each bowl and sprinkle with a bit of additional parsley.

On the stereo:
Have one on me: Joanna Newsom


  1. You are slowly converting me into a health food lover. Thanks for the recipe! I never realised you could eat Adzuki beans!

  2. Aw, first time blowing kisses! What a gorgeous girl you have :) (I'm also glad you wrote "bandaid", as I didn't know what a sticking plaster was! I was guessing roofing material :P)

  3. this sounds like a wonderful dish now that the cooler weather has (sadly) arrived!

  4. Hi Johanna,
    The soup looks amazing :)So hearty and perfect for Autumn.
    In my experience cooking beans in water/stock which has salt added to it significantly slows down (or stops completely) the cooking process.
    So I always season last thing in soups like this. If cooking beans on their own (before adding them to a soup) you can also add a touch of bicarb soda to the water which mysteriously helps the process.

    I knew about these things but I didn't really know any reasons behind it, so I just looked it up and found this explaination, which you might find interesting too:

    Cheers, Bella.

  5. I think it's a good sign that Sylvia wasn't that interested in TV. Means you've raised her to have a good head on her shoulders!

    I think this soup looks delicious though I'm sorry you had so much trouble with the adzukis! I know they're used for a lot of Asian desserts by being made into a sweet red bean paste. Sounds weird but it's absolutely delicious!

  6. Thanks cook my books - glad to share a few healthy recipes - need them to balance a few decadent recipes

    Thanks Hannah - Sylvia would make you laugh if you could see her blowing kisses and giggling at the same time - as for sticking plaster - I was shamed into saying this by E who says bandaid is a brand name - but it is what I always called them

    Thanks Lisa - nothing like a good soup to warm you up - it is really cool tonight - have been thinking the heater will be back in action soon

    Thanks Bella - very helpful info - I have found a few recipes where the beans are cooked with the flavours - I find they can be a bit tough so maybe I will try these beans again just in water

    Thanks Joanne - I will be happy if she is still so uninterested in tv in a few years - haven't ever been enthused by the idea of sweet adzuki beans but your comments are encouraging

  7. I wonder how old your beans were? When I made my adzuki bean soup, I didn't soak them and they were soft after an hour while being cooked with all the seasonings. I hesitate to cook beans with tomato, but I have heard that cooking with a dash of salt doesn't hurt the beans, it just gives them flavour (it may need a bit extra time, but I haven't done a firm comparison yet).

    Either way, glad to hear your soup worked out well on day 2! :)

  8. Thanks Janet - I had the same thought - but I only bought them late last year and when I checked the best before day was a month or two away so I am not sure that this was the problem. Good to hear your exepriences as it lets me know what is possible with the right beans

  9. Glad I was not the only one with an azuki bean crisis LOL
    In any case, your soup turned out just lovely!

    My beans were really done quite fast. I cast away the first water after 5 min and then it took only 30 min or so before they were done. Maybe yours weren't that fresh anymore. Happened to me with white beans once :(


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