Sweet Red Bean Soup

Sweet Red Bean Soup

Mandarin oranges, tangerines, and clementines are the most popular and abundant fruits during the Chinese New Year. The Cantonese pronunciation of this fruit is “kam” which sounds like gold, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. One would always bring an even number of mandarin oranges as a gift when visiting family and friends because good things are supposed to come in pairs. Odd numbers are avoided for auspicious occasions.

Some orange peel are often saved and dried for use in sweet desserts. The most popular is the delicious red bean soup with lotus seeds. The red beans used are those of the smaller variety. They are sometimes referred to as adzuki beans.

Sweet Red Bean Soup_1

Glutinous or sticky rice is a type of short grain Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It does not contain gluten as suggested by its name. The word “glutinous” actually refers to its stickiness. This rice comes in two varieties, white and black. The white variety is more popular and is often ground into flour and used in many sweet Asian desserts. The black variety is a separate strain and is not as easily available. The grains are unevenly colored and look like wild rice. When soaked, the water will turn a deep purple color. This rice is primarily used in sweet desserts.

Sweet Red Bean Soup_2

My mom often cook her sweet red bean soup with black sticky rice and coconut cream. She would boil the red beans, black sticky rice, and pandan (screwpine) leaves together until they become a rich thick soup. The pandan leaves give the soup a nice fragrant scent. Coconut cream is only added at the end or sometimes served as a side and added if desired. For this recipe, I used clementine peel instead of the pandan leaves and served the coconut cream as a side.

Sweet Red Bean Soup
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 cup (200g) red beans (adzuki beans), washed and soaked for 2 - 3 hours
  • ¼ cup (40g) black glutinous rice (sweet rice), washed and drained
  • ½ cup (110g) sugar or to taste
  • 2 - 3 slices dried tangerine peel
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) water
  • ½ cup (120ml) coconut cream
  • A pinch of salt
  1. Bring coconut cream to a gentle boil, add a pinch of salt. Turn off heat. Remove and let cool.
  2. Put red beans, glutinous rice, tangerine peel, and water in a medium size pot. Bring to boil, add sugar.
  3. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 2 hours or until beans are soft. Stir every now and then to prevent beans from sticking to the base of pot. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Serve warm with coconut cream.

Sweet Red Bean Soup
NOTE: This post was updated on April 25th, 2013 with new pictures. Recipe remains unchanged.

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎


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  1. MaryMoh says

    I love red bean soup but never added black glutinous rice to it. Looks very delicious. I have to try that next time, with the dried clementine peel.

  2. Biren says

    5 Star Foodie – Thanks! The clementine peel is quite aromatic and the coconut cream makes it rich.

    MaryMoh – Mom likes to add the black glutinous riceand coconut cream. It makes the soup thick and yummy!

    Angie's Recipes – Thanks! The black glutinous rice gives the soup a slightly nutty flavor.

  3. DongXing says

    I had that the other day (without the peel), made by a friend in a pressure cooker. It was absolutely delicious, creamy (because of the black glutinous rice and coconut milk) and heavenly. It was the first time I had this dessert since landing in Merry Ole England 10 years ago. I didn't think my two kids would like it but they did, which to me is bad bad news…

  4. Joy says

    Wow this looks really good, like…REALLY GOOD. I really love black glutinous rice, especially for the texture. This definitely sounds like my type of dessert, warm comforting and not too heavy. Yum!!

  5. Biren says

    Joy – Thanks for stopping by! Black glutinous rice is quite different, isn't it? Will have to try it in savory dishes soon.

  6. Anonymous says

    can i use black glutinous rice mix with sweet rice to make Zong,Dumplings wrap in bamboo leaves

  7. Biren says

    Hi Anonymous! I have not used black glutinous rice in savory dishes and zong but I think it should work if you are going to mix with sweet glutinous rice. I would use less of the black and more of the sweet white rice. All the best in your efforts.

  8. Jeannie says

    First time see these 2 ingredients combined to make soup! Great idea, can have the best of both worlds!

  9. Ivan says

    I’ve got lots of clemetines at the moment. Question: how do I dry them out quickly so that I can start using them for this recipe?

    • Biren says

      I actually leave mine to air dry on the counter as it is so dry here during the winter with the furnace/heating on. It usually takes only a few days for it to turn hard and crisp.


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