Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup

29 Dec

Feeling a little bit nasty after over-indulging over Christmas? You need 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. I saw this one growing in the fields where we walk the dog but have been unable to find them to buy here. Apparently they are readily available in Australia, New Zealand & the US as well as in Japan obviously.

Azuki beans (or 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.

In the absence of Kabocha I used butternut squash but any sweet pumpkin or squash will do. 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 & Azuki 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) azuki 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 gr squash/pumpkin, cut into 2cm 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 azuki 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 1 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.

With a big stock of this in your fridge you are minutes away from a healthy and delicious meal that should set you up for anything. Including more over-indulging at the end of this week….


18 Responses to “Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide December 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    These beans intrigue me, I must seek them out. The soup looks wonderful too and I am definitely eating lighter this week!

  2. Chica Andaluza December 29, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    This looks amazing and I was intrigued by the info you gave on the beans. Where do you find them here?

    • foodblogandthedog December 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

      Thanks! I get them from the Herboristeria and unlike most things in there they are not that expensive!!

  3. peasepudding December 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    I love the colour of the soup, rich and wholesome. We certainly do have these pumpkin in NZ, not a veg I used before coming here and I have the Japanese curry paste too so this will be on the menu for cooler months. I tend to over eat less over Christmas due to warmer weather here and always like to get a surf in on Christmas day to balance out any excess ;0)

  4. tiffany December 29, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Delicioso! (and nice placemat!!!)

  5. Savory Simple December 30, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    I’ve been overindulging big time and I don’t see things letting up until I return from visiting family on the 2nd. I think this soup will have to go on the menu!

  6. Professor Vegetable December 30, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    What a wonderful soup!!!

  7. ceciliag December 30, 2011 at 5:21 am #

    Just divine. So hard for me to get some of these ingredients out here. But I am going to begin by sourcing these azuki beans, then we could grow them,. i love that you give us nutritional advice as well. I really really love to eat and serve food that is good for us.

    I have johns vegetarian children staying for christmas, but they do not like vegetables.. So it is a meatfree diet with lots of noodles and pizza.. i shake my head.. there are so MANY divine vegetarian options, gorgeous food that I love to cook, but they would rather have macaroni cheese out of a box and feel above the rest of us.. I shake my head again. I would love to make this soup for them. So healthy do good. Their brains would be wired.

    but no, noodles and red sauce please.

    Though I will not tell them but i doctor their blended red sauce with summer sauce and tofu!! bad step mother! .. c

    • foodblogandthedog December 30, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      HA!! Sneaking tofu in their red sauce is genius, why not try adding some grated or cubed to their pizza too, and saying it’s cheese! Give them a note when they leave telling them how healthy they’ve been but tell them that they cannot open it till they get home, I’m sure you’ll hear the screams!!

  8. Tony Ward December 30, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    sounds far tooooo healthy for me guapa!! Will give this one a try AFTER the celebrations. Looks delicious. xx

    Welcome back Tiffany.

  9. Ayako Mathies December 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    Wow, that’s interesting that you used curry “roux” (as we call it in Japanese) in your soup. It sounds delish!

    Azuki beans are great when cooked with sugar (the most popular way to consume azuki) and eaten with vanilla or green tea ice cream.

  10. thebigfatnoodle December 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    I nominated you for an award because I always find your recipes inspirational and very creative! http://thebigfatnoodle.com/2011/12/30/boys-will-be-boys-and-happy-new-year-wishes-to-all/

  11. Beth Michelle December 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    It is finally soup season here in Israel and I cannot wait to try this. It sounds so amazing and warming. Perfect for after all these sugary treats of the season.

  12. Three Well Beings January 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    I really love beans, and have never tried Azuki’s. Both Kabocha squash and these beans are easily obtained here, but I’ve never tried them. This dish looks so beautiful I must try it! Happy New Year, Natalie. Debra

  13. swellkid recipes January 17, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I have been wanting to try adzuki beans for a long time- thanks for the inspiration!

  14. indraswb November 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I’ll try this out with some adzuki miso!


  1. Black Bean Soup « Spoon Feast - December 31, 2011

    […] Japanese Pumpkin and Azuki Bean Soup (foodblogandthedog.wordpress.com) […]

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    […] While I have heard of such a highly-praised squash, I had never eaten it.  I figured there hadn’t been a squash that I […]

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