Sweet Potato and Multi-Bean Dessert Soup

Posted on March 28, 2012 by eelengchang | 0 Comments

A couple of days ago, the weather was yucky and gloomy and I thought that the cold was finally settling in. With that, I made preparations to make my idea of a perfect wintry soup. Of course, Melbourne being Melbourne has decided to revisit summer again and this past 2 days has been bright and sunny. Not the best kind of weather for this soup but since I'd already started preparing it, there was no turning back. 

I'm pretty much the complete opposite of a chef, I can't cook very well and the chances of disasters when I try something new in the kitchen is pretty high. So, to someone that can cook, this 'recipe' will be a big laugh! :)

This is based on a combo of sorts of different Chinese style dessert soups. Growing up, my mum would sometimes make these soups in a massive pot and we would snack on these soups throughout the entire day. The three main ones that I really loved was a Red Bean Soup, a Mung Bean Soup and a Barley Soup. I looked in my pantry, and I found red beans, black eye beans and barley so I came up with this concoction. I call it my Sweet Potato and Multi-Bean Dessert Soup




Red Beans

Black Eye Beans

Pearl Barley

Sweet Potato


Rock Sugar/Lump Sugar



1. Soak a generous amount of red beans, black eye beans and pearl barley in cold water overnight. I'd say that most other beans would work well too, like mung bean or... I can't think of any other beans. I probably had 1 - 1.5 cups of beans in total.

2. Boil up the beans in a pot of water. Leave it simmering for ages and ages. The water/soup will start turning a reddy brown from the red beans. Or greeny brown if you're using mung beans. I'd say I probably left it for about 2 hours plus.

3. I had half a sweet potato in the fridge so I went ahead and cut up nice chunky cubes of it to add to the soup. I used the purple variety (outside white, inside purple). I'd think other varieties would work well too, or even taro or yam. 

Unrelated, I just recently discovered that taro and yam are not the same thing but incidentally, Malaysians and Singaporeans use the word yam to mean taro! It said so right off Wikipedia and made it all the more funny since we were sitting around debating it and my brother in-law's girlfriend (a Singaporean) and I (a Malaysian) were insisting they were the same thing while everyone else in the family (Australians) kept saying they weren't.

And so with that, I might not actually know what yam is, so maybe don't use yam if you don't think it will work. But taro would be nice I think.

4. Wait til the sweet potato/taro/whatever else you've added in has softened and basically all ingredients are nice and cooked and a bit mushy. Add in rock sugar or just regular sugar if you don't have rock sugar, add this to taste. Stir it around a fair bit after the sugar goes in, then the soup is pretty much done! I've kept this batch fairly light on the sweetness, which I think makes it a lot nicer to drink throughout the day without getting too sick of it. 


Other stuff that could go in:

I reckon there's heaps of things you can chuck in this soup, here's a few suggestions that I'm going to be trying the next time I make this:

Dried orange skin, this will give it a subtle bitter taste that seems to go well with Red Bean Soup, put this in early with the beans to get the most out of it.

Ginko nuts

Bean curd skin, the type that goes all nice and soft and practically melts in the soup to give it that extra texture

Melon sticks (Not sure if that's the proper name for it...)

Tapioca/Sago pearls



So there's my recipe! Sorry that its not very precise or instructional, I really did just approximate everything and hope for the best, which is pretty much how I cook everything. But if you are interested in this kind of dessert soups, I do recommend you try your hand at making some (probably from a more valid recipe ;p). They're wonderfully hearty and warm and tasty, my ultimate cold weather comfort food. I even daresay, more than chocolate!!

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