Syrup and Snow

Gentle as the spring breeze may blow, her cutting chill still manages to penetrate into my guts and bones as I stand in romance with the picturesque country scenery just twenty minutes on foot from the warmth of my home. My numb fingers, pink from the biting cold, peek out from my mitten holes, and yet my heart and cheeks are tingling with warmth. There is something waiting faithfully for my return besides the hearth.

The crock pot, having bubbled away silently for the night past, brewing its magic in unnoticed secrecy has, once again, succeeded in the full transformation of the most humble ingredients.

Few sweets can melt away the place a thick, syrupy bowl of red bean soup occupies in my heart. It is my mother’s steadfast remedy for curing the most helpless case of winter blues. Cooked from the dried form, red beans or adzuki beans can truly be a test for one’s patience, for it requires a relaxing two-hour soak, only to be followed by a further eight to ten hours of the subtlest simmer. Hearty as legumes may seem, a good red bean soup is a delicate matter; the skins of each bean is to be intact and whole, maintaining to the full measure the original shape of the bean, for a mush is unfortunate. For this reason, the simmer must be gentle, and stirring impeded. As with cooking any dried bean, salt or sugar should only be added once the beans have tenderized fully, as to ensure as rich, creamy stew.

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Ingredients for the red bean soup:

1 cup dried red adzuki beans

1 cup black soy beans

8 cups filtered water

135 g palm sugar

chilled coconut cream, to serve

To make the red bean soup, rinse the beans under tap water until the water runs clear. Drain the beans, then put them in the slow cooker with the filtered water. Allow the beans to soak for 2~3 hours before cooking on high power (II) for 8~9 hours, or until thick and creamy. Add the palm sugar, and continue cooking until it is fully dissolved before stirring to ensure the sweetness is evenly distributed.

Serve hot, in small bowls topped with a cute snow cap of chilled coconut cream. Allow any leftovers to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container and storing it in the fridge. It will last for a week in the fridge, and is excellent for freezing. Once it is chilled (not frozen), it will thicken and become like a sorbet, an alternate  form I quite enjoy also!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do, this bowl of red bean soup for good luck in the New Year!

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