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Meatless Monday: Azuki Bean Soup

Cooking Tool of the Month – Pressure Cooker

Azuki Bean Soup is a very traditional macrobiotic recipe. You can find a version of this soup in almost every macrobiotic book. It happens to be one of my favorites, which is why I chose it for today’s pressure cooker recipe. It comes from Cooking For Health: Stress & Hypertension, a series of books by Aveline Kushi. This is an old school macrobiotic book I bought when I was in culinary school (it was on sale at Half Price for $2). It contains the theory of macrobiotics, some really great drawings of knife techniques and traditional macrobiotic recipes. I wouldn’t suggest this book to anyone (there are better macro books out there), but I had to make a recipe out of it for Cookbook Mania!

Last week I showed you how to use your pressure cooker and a delicious stew recipe. You can check out that video here. Surprisingly there wasn’t many comments on that post, which must mean I haven’t convinced you how badly you need a pressure cooker (yet). So my quest continues! Wait till you see how to make delicious seitan this week! The pressure cooker makes awesome bean soups. And since it’s winter I’m all about the soup.

Azuki beans are little red beans popular in Japan and China. It’s often used in pastries, desserts, and ice cream. You may think that is weird, but once you have an anpan (pronounced onpon) you’ll understand why these beans make the most delicious pastry filling. There was a restaurant in LA that carried vegan versions of these red bean donuts, which was where my love affair began.

Here’s the recipe from Aveline’s book with my changes. I added kabocha squash because it just tastes better that way. I didn’t have fresh ginger but would have preferred it. I used dried ginger instead. Mine was more like a stew than a soup, so feel free to add more water when you season at the end if you want it more soup-like. I leave it up to you how beany you want your soup. The kombu is a must have ingredient in your pantry when cooking dried beans. It helps aid in digestion and also adds flavor to the soup.

I served mine with sliced avocado and cilantro, which is a non-traditional way to eat a Japanese soup, but it was really good that way! If you visit Heather at Healthy Vegan Recipes she shares a video on my version of this soup found in Blissful Bites.

Azuki Bean Soup
Makes 2 to 3 hearty bowls

2 inch piece kombu
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 cup kabocha squash, cubed
1 teaspoon ground ginger (1/2 teaspoon fresh grated)
1/2-1 cup dried azuki beans, washed and drained
Filtered water
Tamari to taste
Sliced avocado, for garnish
Cilantro, for garnish

Layer the kombu onion carrot then kabocha in the pressure cooker. Sprinkle beans on top with ginger and add in water to just cover vegetables (about 2-3 cups). Lock lid and bring to pressure over medium high flame. When pressure is reached lower flame and simmer for 25 minutes. Let it come down from pressure naturally then remove lid. Season with tamari (I start with 1 tablespoon) and simmer for a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. Serve immediately garnished with avocado and cilantro.

Have you tried azuki beans before? What soups have you been making lately?