Growing up, my mom made green bean soup (“Lok dou sa” in Cantonese). It is a sweet soup which is meant for dessert or snack. Some Chinese restaurants serve it after dinner and usually throw it in for free on the house. The restaurants mainly serve the red bean version, which I enjoy as well, but green bean has always been more of a home-made treat. My mom even made some when I went home for a visit in August!
I picked up a bag of green beans, also called “mung beans”, from the store one day. It has been sitting in the kitchen pantry for some time. I asked my mom for the recipe, which I normally do for dishes from my childhood, and she emailed it to me. I noticed the recipe called for rock sugar, which I was not able to find in the supermarkets here in Hawaii. When I was grocery shopping with my parents in NY back in August, I bought a couple of packs and brought them home to Hawaii. I decided to finally make this soup this week! (Note: brown sugar can be used instead if you cannot find rock sugar)
Green mung beans are “cooling”. When the Chinese say you are “yeet hay” (literally, hot air), that means your yin and yang are imbalanced and you need to eat foods that will bring that balance back. Green bean soup is one of those foods. Mung beans are really nutritious since it is low in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. It is high in protein, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, iron, fiber, folate, etc. You get the point…it is healthy!
This soup is really easy to make and takes less than an hour. Unlike red beans, you don’t have to soak the green beans for some reason. My mom made a note at the bottom of the recipe that I can use the same recipe for red bean soup, except I would have to soak them in water prior to cooking.
The other ingredient, as I mentioned before is rock sugar. Since this is a sweet soup, you will have to add sugar. The authentic way is to add rock sugar, however, if you cannot find it, brown sugar will do.
The soup is ready when the beans split and the water gets murky. This is when the beans get soft and some might say “mushy”, but that is how it is supposed to be. Also, you can either eat the soup hot or cold. I had some hot, which was delicious, but in a hot climate area like Hawaii or if you are making this in the summer, you can wait for it to cool down to room temperature or put it in the refrigerator and eat it cold.
- 5 ounces green beans (mung beans)
- 4 cups water
- 1.5 - 2 ounces sugar or more, (preferably rock sugar) according to your taste
- Fill water in container, add green beans, and wash by rubbing beans with palms of hand. Discard water. Repeat two or three times until water is clear.
- Drain green beans, put in pot and fill with 4 cups of water. Cook on medium high heat with lid on until it boils.
- Turn heat to medium and let it cook about 20 minutes. You will see that the beans start to plump and split. At this time keep lid partially open, as the boiling water will produce foam which will spill over the pot.
- When all the beans have opened and you see the yellow part, time to add sugar. If you do not have rock sugar, use brown sugar. (White sugar gives the soup a sour taste)