Mung Bean Soup

Mung bean soup is a thick, heavy bodied soup that you can serve as a meal in itself. Mung beans are sold in health food stores. They are used for sprouting (bean sprouts) and cooking in soups. Mung beans are popular with Indian cuisine and it makes a thick soup called "Dal". It goes great with curry dishes or all by itself

This recipe is very easy to make. It cooks pretty fast for a soup. A lot of soups take hours to cook but not this one. It has a mildly spicy flavor – not too hot. It uses Anaheim chili peppers, which are very mild – not very hot at all, so don’t be afraid to cook with them. It uses fresh ginger and cilantro which adds a lot of zing to the soup.

Mung Bean Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups whole mung beans, rinsed clean
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups red ripe tomatoes, sliced and chopped into chunks (approx. 3 large tomatoes)
  • 3 cups chopped Anaheim chili peppers (approx. 3 large peppers)
  • 2 cups finely sliced onions (approx. 1 large onion)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 1 tbsp shredded fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp crushed or minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Rinse the mung beans and strain them with a mesh colander 5 or 6 times to clean them. Add the rinsed beans to a large cooking pot. Add 8 cups water to the pot and then add turmeric and salt. Place lid on pot and heat over high flame just until the water starts to boil, then turn the flame way down and cook slowly over a low flame for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook very slowly over a low flame to make a nice, creamy soup.

While the beans are cooking, chop all the vegetables. After the beans have been cooking for about an hour cook the vegetables in a large skillet, adding ingredients a little at a time. Start by adding the vegetable oil to the skillet, heat it up and then add the whole cumin seeds. Cook the cumin seeds for about a minute or two until they begin to darken. Next, turn down the heat to a medium flame and add the sliced onions. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the chopped chili peppers, chopped coriander, ginger and garlic. Add a little bit of water. Stir for a couple of minutes  and then add the chopped tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook for about 20 minutes, partially covered. Stir occasionally during this time, taking care not to burn the vegetables. Adjust the flame as needed.

After the mung beans have cooked for 1 1/2 hours, add the cooked vegetables to the soup. At this time, add garam masala and maybe a little more salt (to taste). Stir with a wooden spoon, then cover the pot and simmer for an additional 15 – 30 minutes to marry up all the flavors. Serve hot.

Shown below is a photo of all the ingredients. Starting in the back and going left to right: crushed garlic, turmeric, garam masala, onion, tomatoes, mung beans, cilantro, whole cumin seeds, Anaheim peppers, fresh ginger root.

First, measure out the mung beans and select a large cooking pot or stock pot with a lid.

Rinse and strain the mung beans with a strainer to clean them and remove any dust.

Add water, salt and turmeric, then bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and cook over a low flame for 1 1/2 hours. Cover while cooking. It is important to cook the mung beans very slowly over a low flame so they come out creamy.

After the mung beans have been cooking for an hour begin cooking the vegetables in a large skillet. Set the timer for another 30 minutes for this part. Start by adding a little oil to the skillet. When the oil has heated, add the whole cumin seeds.

You want to heat them for just a short time – only about a minute or so until they just begin to start turning brown. You don’t want to overcook them.

After a minute or so, add the sliced onions. I like to use a red onion but you can use a yellow onion or white onion if that is all you have. I like to slice them thin. First quarter the onion and then cut each quarter into thin slices. You slice it this way for texture.

Add a little bit of water (only a tablespoon or two) to knock down any smoking. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent.

Next add the chopped peppers, cilantro, shredded and minced ginger and crushed (or minced) garlic. Ginger can be pretty fibrous, so first, I will peel it with a peeler, then shred it with a shredder or cheese grater. Then I will chop it up finely with a chef’s knife to cut up all the fibers.

Cook it for about a minute and a half or so – no more than a couple of minutes.

Finally, add the chopped tomatoes. You should have about 18-20 minutes left on the timer. Cook the tomatoes for 18-20 minutes.

Mix everything together.

You can add a lttle bit of water to just cover them. Cook partially covered.

Periodically check the mung beans, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Just before the vegetables are done, the mung beans should be creamy and smooth.

The vegetables will be done when the tomatoes are completely broken down and sort of a yellowish color. You use the timer to keep track of the cooking time. The mung beans take about an hour and a half and the vegetables take about 30 minutes – the cumin seeds, onions, peppers, cilantro ginger and garlic take about 10-12 minutes and the tomatoes take about 18-20 minutes – total 30 minutes, so that’s why you start to cook the vegetables when the mung beans have been cooking for about an hour.

Add the cooked vegetables to the soup.

Finally, add the garam masala. This gives the soup a spicy taste.

Stir everything together with a wooden spoon and cook for another 30 minutes or so to marry up all the flavors and complete the cooking.

Serve hot. Mung bean soup is delicious. It is a thick soup with a spicy, Indian flavor – very satisfying and very healthy.

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