Sweet red bean dessert soup for all occasions 紅豆湯

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Valentines Day. Meh… So I’m not a loyal supporter of this “holiday” but I will never say no to roses and gifts 😛 My plans on making rose-petalled cupcakes were disrupted by a series of unfortunate occurrences, and needless to say, I didn’t manage to make them on time. Something else, you could make to share with someone special is a Chinese sweet red bean soup.

If you dine at a Taiwanese or Chinese restaurant, complimentary dessert is served at the end of the meal – it’s usually fresh fruit that’s in season or a bowl of cold red bean soup. These red beans, in Mandarin – we literally say “red bean (紅豆; hóngdòu)”, are also known as adzuki or aduki or in the Indian culture “Red Chori”. You might know it better as a paste used in many Oriental pastries and desserts (such as mooncakes).

Owing to its vibrant red colour, this dessert is eaten at celebrations and festivals, including the Chinese New Year. This soup is often served hot or cold, depending on the weather and contain a few core ingredients:

  • red beans
  • tung yuan (pink and white glutinous rice balls)
  • jobs tears
  • water chestnuts
  • mochi
  • sago

This soup is a simple one, using red beans, tung yuan (pink and white glutinous rice balls), jobs tears and sugar.

Serves 6


  • 1 cup dried red (azuki) beans
  • ½ cup of tung yuan (purchased frozen from Taiwanese/Chinese supermarkets)
  • ¼ cup of jobs tears
  • ½ cup sugar/rock sugar (or add to taste)
  • 7 cups of water


  • Combine the red beans with jobs tears and water in a large pot, and bring to boil.
  • Once it reaches boil, reduce to medium heat and boil for two hours until all beans are tender.
  • Separately boil the frozen tung yuan with water until they become sticky and fat – this may take about 20 minutes. Test if it’s ready by taking one out and dissecting it. If the colour is even throughout, it’s ready.
  • Check on the red bean soup pot. The liquid should have reduced and the soup should be a reddish brown colour with a light sable (sandy) texture.
  • Add the sugar to the mixture and bring to boil, melting the sugar.
  • Once it’s done and cooled down, add the tung yuan to the mix.


In winter, serve hot, and in summer, serve cold with ice blocks.

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