February 23, 2010

gingery aduki bean soup

I first met the aduki bean while studying at the Natural Gourmet Institute. This little red bean is a mainstay of Asian - particularly Japanese - cooking, and features prominently in macrobiotics as well. Azukis aid in detoxification and are considered particularly beneficial for the kidneys; some drink their cooking liquid for its therapeutic properties. They are earthy, slightly sweet, and creamy in texture: wonderful in a variety of dishes, even desserts.

I was looking through my cookbooks for an aduki bean soup recipe, and found an excellent one in Annemarie Colbin's book The Natural Gourmet (Annemarie is also the founder of the Natural Gourmet school), which includes turnips and carrots and is finished with a healthy dose of ginger. I basically followed her recipe, with the additions of garlic and umeboshi vinegar. The soup turned out thick and hearty, and with a warm kick from the grated ginger: perfect for a cold day.

gingery aduki bean and root vegetable soup

1 cup dried aduki beans
5 cups water
1 4 to 6 inch piece dried kombu (kelp)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1-2 small to medium turnips, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar, to taste
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped scallions, for garnish
  1. Rinse the beans and place them in a large soup pot. Add the water, kombu, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium (you want it at a lively boil so the beans move around and cook evenly, but not threatening to boil over), cover, and cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes.
  2. While beans are cooking, heat oil in a separate pan over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic for a few minutes, until softened and beginning to take on a golden hue. Add carrots and turnips and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized.
  3. When beans are tender, add sauteed vegetables to soup pot. Deglaze the saute pan with a ladleful of bean cooking liquid and return liquid to the pot, scraping up the brown bits. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until beans and vegetables are tender and soup is thickened.
  4. Turn off heat and add grated ginger, umeboshi vinegar, and black pepper, to taste. Garnish each serving with chopped scallions.
Changes made on 2/24/10 are in italics.


  1. Looks wonderful! I love everything in this soup.

  2. An amazing AND healthy soup! I am unfamiliar with the aduki bean so loved reading about it. Now I will do some investigating on my own. And copy your recipe! Thanks!

  3. Love all that fresh grated ginger! what a good combination of wintery elements--I don't cook in an Asian bent often enough, thanks for the inspiration.

  4. I am definitely filing this recipe... sounds delicious for fall!