Green Bean Sweet Potato Soup
This green bean sweet potato soup (绿豆番薯汤) is a Chinese dessert which is filling enough to be a “dessert meal” on its own due to the sweet potatoes. I learnt about this variant of green bean soup from my mum. She has been sending me daily photos of what she cooked or ate, even if they are repeats. So my phone has many, many pictures of this dessert because she has been cooking this dessert at least twice a week for the past year.
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If you are cutting down on refined sugar but still okay with natural sugars, you can opt not to sweeten the green bean soup with rock sugar, but instead let the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes complement the unsweetened green bean soup.
The main ingredients are sweet potatoes (you can use any variety/coloured flesh or a mix), dried lotus nuts, dried orange peel, pandan leaves, rock sugar and of course, green beans (mung beans).
The first method is the easiest and most straight forward, which is to add the sweet potatoes to boil with the rest of the ingredients in the pot. This method is the most common way, and it is how my mum makes this dessert. Take out the sweet potatoes earlier (once they are ready) to avoid mushy and disintegrating bits in the soup.
The second method is to steam the sweet potatoes separately while the soup is simmering away. Pictured above is my tray of raw sweet potatoes before cooking. This is my preferred method as the steamed sweet potatoes retain their sweetness & firmness after cooking. The steaming juices collected in the steam tray afterwards can be poured back into the pot green bean soup.
This is my glass pot demonstrating both methods at the same time: the sweet potatoes simmering away in the pot, and the steamer rack above it where I steamed some sweet potatoes. I recommend the steaming method only if you have a steamer attachment on top of your pot or rice cooker, so that you can steam the food on the top tier while soup or rice is being cooked at the bottom. Otherwise, it will be an expense of effort and resources to steam the sweet potatoes separately.