In some Asian cultures, red is considered an auspicious color, symbolizing happiness, good fortune, and prosperity. Therefore, dishes made with red ingredients, including red bean sweet soup, are sometimes served during special occasions to bring luck and happiness. Moreover, these beans are rich in fiber and nutrients, promoting good health and longevity. Let’s learn how to cook red bean sweet soup at home.

red bean sweet soup

The meaning of Red Bean Sweet Soup

Red bean sweet soup, also known as “red bean soup,” “Hong Dou Tang” in Chinese, or “Chè đậu đỏ” in Vietnamese, is a popular dessert in many Asian countries, particularly in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It’s made from red beans (also known as azuki beans) that are cooked until soft and sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners like rock sugar or honey. Sometimes, small pieces of glutinous rice balls or rice cakes are added to the soup to make it more flavorful. Red bean sweet soup can be served hot or cold, depending on personal preference and the weather.

More than just a type of dessert, red bean sweet soup is also a symbol of luck and happiness. In recent years, there has been a trend of eating red bean sweet soup on the Qixi Festival (also called the Double Seven Festival or Chinese Valentine’s Day) to seek luck in love matters.

red bean sweet soup

Ingredients for Red Bean Sweet Soup

To begin preparing our Red Bean Sweet Soup, let’s gather the necessary ingredients. These can easily be found at your local grocery store:

  • Red Beans: You’ll need 1-2 cups (175-350g) of red beans. These small legumes are rich in fiber and possess a delightful earthy flavor that forms the essence of our dessert.
  • Water: To cook the red beans perfectly, you’ll need 3-8 cups (750ml-2L) of water, maintaining a ratio of 1:3 to 1:4 between red beans and water. For instance, if using 2 cups of red beans, add 1.5L of water to the pot.
  • Sugar: Utilize 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar, adjusting to your preference for sweetness. I personally reduce the sugar quantity to moderate daily intake.
  • Coconut Milk (optional): For a creamy, tropical touch, include a can of coconut milk (approximately 13.5 oz). This adds a lush, velvety consistency that beautifully complements the red beans.

Though these ingredients are simple, they combine perfectly to deliver a sweet and nutty flavor. The cooking process is straightforward and simple. While it may require some time for the beans to be cooked well, just leave the pot to simmer and check on it every 20-30 minutes.

Equipment: regular pot, pressure cooker or instant pot

Pressure cookers and instant pots are like my super helpers for cooking beans because they make it cooked much more quickly. More than that, they use less energy than cooking on the stove.

However, using a regular pot also has its perks. You can skim off any foam while the beans are cooking to make the sweet soup cleaner and smoother. You can also check if the beans are soft enough whenever you want and stop cooking when they’re just right, while cooking in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot may easily lead to overcooking.

red bean sweet soup
Cooking in regular pot allows you to skim off the foam, making a more eye-catching sweet soup.

Deciding which pot to use depends on what you like and what works best for you. Personally, I think a pressure cooker is the way to go because it saves so much time. But if you don’t have one, you can try soaking the beans for a long time, like overnight, to speed up cooking process.

Cooking Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • To get your red beans ready, start by washing 1 cup of them really well under cold water in a bowl. Add a little pinch of salt while rinsing. Then, let the beans sit in the water for at least 4 hours. If you can, it’s even better to leave them soaking overnight. This soaking step makes the beans softer and cuts down on the time it takes to cook them.
  • This preparation step only takes about 10 minutes, so plan ahead and give the beans time to soak. If you’re planning to cook not just red beans but any other accompaniments such as lotus seeds, remember to soak them either in the morning to cook them later in the day, or soak them overnight and start cooking the next day.
red bean sweet soup
Soak the beans.

Step 2. Roasting the Red Beans (Optional)

  • The method for making Red Bean Sweet Soup mentioned earlier is already pretty simple. But if you want to make the beans even tastier, here’s an extra step you can add: after soaking them, put the red beans in a skillet and roast them for about 5 minutes until the skins start to wrinkle. Then, you can cook the beans using the same steps as before. This extra step adds a bit more flavor to the beans.

Step 3. Cooking Red Bean Sweet Soup

  • Combining Ingredients: After at least 4 hours, place the rinsed red beans in your pressure cooker, Instant Pot or a regular pot. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt to the pot. Pour in the desired amount of water to cover the beans.
  • Pressure cooking: Close the lid of your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, ensuring it’s properly sealed. Set the cooker to high pressure and cook the beans for about 25-30 minutes. Exact timing may vary depending on your appliance, so consult the manual for guidance. Then, let the cooker release the steam slowly in the next 10-15 minutes before opening and check the beans. If they have not been cooked thoroughly yet, close the lid and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • Stovetop cooking: With stovetop, your waiting time will obviously be longer. It can take 1-2 hours for the red beans to soften over medium heat. Remember that the longer time you soak your red beans, the shorter time you need to cook them. Skim the foam on top of the pot. Add more water if necessary and check the beans every 30 minutes. Turn off the heat once the beans reach your preferred level of softness.
red bean sweet soup
  • The flavors have melded beautifully, creating a sweet and aromatic treat. Adjust the taste the last time. To serve Red Bean Sweet Soup, you can top it with coconut milk, grated coconut, and crushed peanuts. You can also try more toppings such as tapioca pearls, cooked lotus seeds and many more to add them to the dessert.
red bean sweet soup

Red Bean Sweet Soup

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

Dishes made with red ingredients, including red bean sweet soup, are sometimes served during special occasions to bring luck and happiness.

Ingredients

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • To get your red beans ready, start by washing 1 cup of them really well under cold water in a bowl. Add a little pinch of salt while rinsing. Then, let the beans sit in the water for at least 4 hours. If you can, it's even better to leave them soaking overnight. This soaking step makes the beans softer and cuts down on the time it takes to cook them.red beans

Step 2. Roasting the Red Beans (Optional)

  • The method for making Red Bean Sweet Soup mentioned earlier is already pretty simple. But if you want to make the beans even tastier, here's an extra step you can add: after soaking them, put the red beans in a skillet and roast them for about 5 minutes until the skins start to wrinkle. Then, you can cook the beans using the same steps as before. This extra step adds a bit more flavor to the beans.

Step 3. Cooking Red Bean Sweet Soup

  • Combining Ingredients: After at least 4 hours, place the rinsed red beans in your pressure cooker, Instant Pot or a regular pot. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt to the pot. Pour in the desired amount of water to cover the beans.red bean sweet soup
  • Stovetop cooking: With stovetop, your waiting time will obviously be longer. It can take 1-2 hours for the red beans to soften over medium heat. Remember that the longer time you soak your red beans, the shorter time you need to cook them. Skim the foam on top of the pot. Add more water if necessary and check the beans every 30 minutes. Turn off the heat once the beans reach your preferred level of softness.red bean sweet soupSkim the foam while boiling.
  • Pressure cooking: Close the lid of your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, ensuring it's properly sealed. Set the cooker to high pressure and cook the beans for about 25-30 minutes. Exact timing may vary depending on your appliance, so consult the manual for guidance. Then, let the cooker release the steam slowly in the next 10-15 minutes before opening and check the beans. If they have not been cooked thoroughly yet, close the lid and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the beans reach your preferred softness. red bean sweet soup
  • The flavors have melded beautifully, creating a sweet and aromatic treat. Adjust the taste the last time. To serve Red Bean Sweet Soup, you can top it with coconut milk, grated coconut, and crushed peanuts. You can also try more toppings such as tapioca pearls, cooked lotus seeds and many more to add them to the dessert.red bean sweet soup

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 209

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Other Sweet Soup

2 Comments

  1. I want to say that this post is amazing. I followed your instruction and it turned out great. Thanks!

  2. The recipe is simple, easy to follow. Recommend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to Recipe