Japanese pumpkin and adzuki bean soup recipe

Posted by Natalie Ward on 16 January 2012

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging this Christmas? Start the New Year as you mean to go on with a bowl of nutritious soup that makes you feel all virtuous and healthy inside.

Kabocha squash (or Japanese pumpkin) has dark green skin with lighter stripes. Inside, the flesh is a bright yellowy-orange colour and it has a natural sweetness that makes it delicious as well as nutritious. In the absence of Kabocha, butternut or any sweet pumpkin or squash will do.

Adzuki beans are small, reddish-brown beans with a white ridge along one edge. Cooked, they have a sweet, nutty flavor. They originated in China but are also popular in Japan. Here are the nutritional benefits of eating these amazing little beans (Taken from Natural Health Articles):

  • They are one of the highest protein and lowest fat varieties of bean, containing high levels of potassium and fibre, as well as B vitamins and iron, they promote a healthy digestive system, reduce fatigue, improve circulation, strengthen the kidneys, detoxify the skin & organs and help lower levels of bad cholesterol  in the blood.
  • Some experts say that the phytoestrogens (weak estrogens) present in azuki beans could even help prevent breast cancer by fooling the body into thinking it is still producing real oestrogen and therefore stopping it producing the stronger estrogens that can promote breast cancer.
  • They are available from health food shops and Asian markets in dried form. You have to wash and then soak them for 6-8 hours (or overnight) before cooking with them.

I also used a Japanese curry paste to give it extra flavour. Japanese curry paste comes in a rectangular box that has little cubes of the paste in plastic trays (like ice cubes) and you add it with the stock so it melts into the soup. You can get them in Asian supermarkets. There are hot or mild varieties, I used hot.

Japanese pumpkin and adzuki bean soup

Serves 6, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from The Blissful Chef

Bean Soaking time: overnight or 6-8 hours  Prep Time: 15 mins  Cooking Time: 1 1/4 hours

  • 240 gr (1 1/2 cups) adzuki beans, wash then put in a large bowl, cover with water & leave to soak overnight (or 6-8 hours)
  • 1 litre (5 cups) water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • about 500 grams squash/pumpkin, cut into 2-centimetre cubes. I didn’t peel mine but Kabocha should be peeled
  • salt & black pepper
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 or 2 cubes Japanese curry paste (substitute 1 tbsp curry powder)
  • 1 tbsp chilli bean paste (or other chilli sauce)
  • a big handful of fresh parsley or coriander, finely chopped

Put the drained adzuki beans with the clean water and bay leaves in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 40 minutes until the beans are tender but not mushy.

Add the squash, season well with salt & black pepper then add the stock. Bring the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the carrots, chilli bean paste, curry paste and simmer for a further 5 -10 minutes until carrots are tender.

Dissolve the miso paste in a cup with a small amount of the hot broth and then add to the pot. Simmer for one more minute then turn off the heat. Stir in the fresh herbs, taste to check seasoning and serve in warmed bowls garnished with extra fresh herbs.


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