This simple recipe for Chinese Red Bean Soup is a classic Cantonese dessert, made with only 3 ingredients in the Instant Pot!
What is red bean soup?
Chinese Red Bean Soup is a classic Cantonese dessert, commonly served at banquets, and in restaurants.
Similar to Black Sesame Soup, it is a type of "tong sui" which literally means "sugar water," or sweet/dessert soup.
Red bean soup is made with adzuki red beans, which are also used in red bean paste.
What are red adzuki beans?
Red adzuki beans are a small, smooth bean mainly cultivated in Asia.
The beans are commonly used in East Asian cuisine.
How to choose dried red adzuki beans?
You can find packaged red adzuki beans in Asian supermarkets.
Choose beans that are hard, smooth, shiny and red-purple in colour.
There should not be any signs of wrinkling, mold, dark spots or rancid smell.
Why you'll love this recipe
This recipe is truly simple to make, with only 3 ingredients.
Using a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) reduces the overall cooking time.
Soaking the beans helps to remove any excess gas.
Equipment you'll need
- pressure cooker (Instant Pot): for cooking the beans
- blender or immersion blender: for blending the soup
Ingredients you'll need
There are only 3 main ingredients to this dessert soup:
- dried red adzuki beans: you can use them without soaking, but if you have the time, it is best to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight to rid of any excess gas
- filtered water
- Chinese rock sugar: usually comes in large chunks that look like rocks; it can range in colour from clear to yellow; you can substitute with granulated sugar, palm sugar, Chinese brown sugar (comes in slabs), or other sweetener that you like
You can find these ingredients in Asian supermarkets.
Traditionally, Chinese Red Bean Soup contains dried tangerine peel and lotus seeds, however I've omitted them as they can be a little difficult to find (and my kids don't like them).
Common additions include:
- sago/tapioca pearls: adds a chewy texture
- coconut milk or coconut cream: adds richness
- glutinous rice balls/tang yuan: again, adds a contrasting chewy texture
How to make it
Wash and soak the dried adzuki beans in a bowl with enough water to cover (at least 8 hours, or overnight) (Step 1-3 below).
Drain the water, and place the beans into the Instant Pot liner, cover with water and add rock sugar (Step 4 below).
Place the lid on, set to vent to SEAL and press the BEAN/CHILI function -- 25 minutes, HIGH PRESSURE.
Once the beans have cooked, open the lid and use an immersion blender to blend the red bean soup.
OR transfer about half of the beans and some liquid to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pot and stir. You can skim off and discard the foam (Step 5 below).
Depending on your preference, you can blend the entire soup for a smooth red bean soup, or you can leave some beans unblended for texture. Add additional water if you feel the soup is too thick.
Serve the red bean soup hot or cold (Step 6 below).
How to serve & store
You can serve Chinese Red Bean Soup hot or chilled.
Store the dessert soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Expert tips & troubleshooting
My beans are still rock hard after cooking.
Older beans may need a longer cooking time.
However, very old beans can remain tough and hard after cooking, after hours of cooking.
It's best to buy small amounts of dried beans and use them within a year.
I don't have Chinese rock sugar.
You can substitute with regular granulated sugar, or any sweetener to your taste.
Note that Chinese rock sugar is less sweet than granulated sugar.
I don't have a pressure cooker, can I use a slow cooker instead?
Yes, you can follow the recipe and place the ingredients into the crock pot liner.
Set to LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours, until the beans are tender.
Can I make it on the stove top?
Yes, it's similar to making it in a slow cooker -- bring the ingredients up to a simmer, and cover with a lid.
Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender.
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Chinese Red Bean Soup (Instant Pot)
- pressure cooker (Instant Pot)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 200 g dried azuki red bean soaked
- 1 L (4 C) filtered water
- 85 g Chinese rock sugar or other sweetener, to taste
- Wash and soak the dried adzuki beans in a bowl with enough water to cover (at least 8 hours, or overnight).
- Drain the water, and place the beans into the Instant Pot liner.
- Cover the beans with 4 C water and add in rock sugar.
- Place the lid on, set to vent to SEAL and press the BEAN/CHILI function -- 25-28 minutes, HIGH PRESSURE.
- Once the beans have cooked, open the lid and use an immersion blender to blend the red bean soup.
- Or transfer about half of the beans and some liquid to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the blended mixture to the pot and stir. You can skim off and discard the foam.
- Depending on your preference, you can blend the entire soup for a smooth red bean soup, or you can leave some beans unblended for texture. Add additional water if you feel the soup is too thick.
- Serve the red bean soup hot or cold.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.