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Azuki bean dessert soup

July 27, 2013

Another not-so-sweet dessert that I love to enjoy on a regular basis is azuki bean soup, otherwise translated from Chinese as “red bean soup.” In essence, it is cooking a bunch of azuki beans cooked to death, mixed with other grains, dried fruit, and sweeteners, and enjoyed warm instead of cold. My favorite addition is mochi balls, because the sweet sticky rice goes so well with the earthy flavor of the beans.

I choose to make my own mochi pieces for these soups because 1) they don’t have weird stuff in the ingredients and 2) I can make as many of whatever flavor I want. My favorite mochi flavor is actually a grassy-tasting powder called mugwort, which I have used in this instance.


Mugwort is a very healthy leafy herb used in a variety of Korean dishes, including soups for relieving PMS. It is also often used in rice cakes and other types of Asian desserts. Usually I buy mine at the Korean store for several dollars an ounce. I always use them in mochi because it is my favorite flavor, by far, over fruity flavors.

I also did not use any sweeteners in my homemade mochi. For some people, some sugar may be required, but I am good to go on just some flavor-wealthy sweet rice and mugwort.

Other mochi balls that I have made in the past that go well with the red bean soup is plain, filled with either peanut butter or sesame seed paste. I definitely would think that a strawberry-flavored mochi ball would taste good in this soup as well.

Mochi balls

The worst part about making this soup, since I am not a pressure cooker owner, is that I have to wait at least an hour for this soup to cook. I like it fresh and warm so I only make it if I intend to eat it that day.


My favorite addition do the soup is just a large spoonful of honey, added right after the boiling of the beans. The local raw honey I put into the soup incorporates quickly into the soup, and because the beans are cooked to the point of falling apart, the honey works into the soup even better. Otherwise, I would recommend adding a sweetener when the soup begins to cook.

1/2 cup azuki beans
2 cups water
4 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
1 Tbsp mugwort powder
1 Tbsp sugar worth of sweetener (if desired)
2.5 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp honey

(1) Soak the azuki beans fully in water for a few hours or up to 2 days before cooking.
(2) Bring the azuki beans to a boil in the 2 cups of water and simmer on low heat for at least 60 minutes.
(3) In the meantime, mix the rice flour, mugwort powder, desired sweetener, and 2.5 Tbsp water in a bowl until it forms a thick paste. Roll into about 12 small balls and set aside.
(4) Bring another pot of water to a boil. Once it hits the boiling point, add the mochi balls into the water and cover. When the water comes up again to a boil, bring heat down to medium and allow the mochi balls to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
(5) Remove the mochi with a slotted spoon and set aside.
(6) When the azuki bean soup is finished simmering, add the mochi balls to the soup, along with the honey.
(7) Split into 2 serving bowls (or keep as one!) and enjoy.

Dai Dai

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