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….