February 13, 2009

Mung bean soup with kale

By the time you read this post, I'll be on a plane to Seattle to celebrate my granddaughter's first birthday. She was born on Valentine's day which may explain why she is so incredibly sweet and lovable! I can't wait to see her and her parents, and our other Seattle-based son and his girlfriend. We'll also be in Seattle all through next week, seriously looking into whether or not we want to move there. But more about that if it actually happens.

Now on to the soup. I was about to put the raisin jar back on its shelf when I noticed the forgotten jar sitting behind it. It contained about two cups of whole mung beans. I couldn't even remember the last time I'd made anything with those beans, but I really like mung bean soup. Most people think of mung beans as the sprouts that appear so often in Chinese dishes, but the unsprouted beans make a wonderful soup. You can buy them whole or split (mung dal), with or without their skins, but I love the way the small, oval, green whole beans look, so I've always bought them whole. I don't soak them, though you could, and I like to cook them in the pressure cooker, but they can just as easily be cooked in a regular pot. They are supposed to be very healthful and easy to digest. I'm on a ginger and garlic streak so I combined those with what seemed like complimentary spices. I used crushed red pepper because we were out of cayenne and I completely forgot to add the cilantro. It was delicious.

uncooked, whole mung beans

Mung bean soup
2 cups whole mung beans, sorted, washed and drained
7 cups water (more if you want a thinner soup)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more if you like it really hot)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweetener of choice
juice of 1 lime
1 bunch kale, washed, center stem removed, chopped
1 large carrot, julienned
toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
fresh coriander

hot sauce

  1. Put the beans in a pressure cooker with the water and bring to pressure. Cook for 25 minutes. (You can also cook the beans in a regular pot but it will take a bit longer.)
  2. When the beans are cooked, you can either leave them whole, blend them into a smooth purée, or blend about half of the soup with an immersion or regular blender. I chose to partially blend the beans to achieve a soup with a bit of texture.
  3. While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they turn brown. (Don't let them burn.)
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric and salt and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add the cayenne, kale and carrot and stir-fry until the kale is tender and bright green. You may need to add a splash of water to the wok if it's too dry.
  6. When the vegetables are cooked, add them to the beans along with the sugar and lime juice. Add a tablespoon or two of water to the wok and scrape up any remaining seasonings to add to the soup pot.
  7. Serve in bowls garnished with pumpkin seeds, hot sauce and fresh coriander.


  1. Where does one find mung beans? I really have not seen them at the store during my brousing.

  2. Sounds great.... and have a great time with the kids!!!

  3. Alisa,
    I found mine at our local food coop but you can also find them at Asian markets that sell Chinese and Indian groceries.

    Thanks! The party was lots of fun.

  4. I have a bag of whole mung beans that I've had forever because I wasn't sure how to prepare them. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  5. Alisa,
    It was Andrea who left that comment for you from "ken's" computer. I was signed in so I'm not sure why my name didn't come up.

    Sorry I spelled your name wrong!

    You can cook mung beans cook pretty much like lentils. The whole ones take a little longer to cook than split ones but are much faster cooking than other, larger beans. They have a similar cooking time to black-eyed peas.

  6. That does sound good! I have never cooked with them.

    Have a good time :)

  7. Holler,
    Thanks for your comment. You know, I hardly ever remember to cook with mung beans, but when I do, I'm always glad I did.

  8. My Chinese Herbalist/Acupuncturist recommended eating mung beans. I didn't even know what they were! They are a good source of protein, easy to digest and are supposed to help reduce cholesterol, from the information I gained from him. My stomach is ulcerated (not that you all want to know that...)and this is supposed to be one of the healing foods that will provide protein without having to eat meat. So...I will embark on the recipe and see how my belly responds! Thanks....

  9. Good luck with healing your health problems. I hope eating mug beans helps. And thanks for visiting my blog.

  10. Hello! I'm not sure if you will be checking this post for comments by now, but just in case . . . I love split mung beans, but when I tried to cook whole mung beans there was a lot of grey "gunk" in the water and in the froth (despite having soaked them and rinsed them thoroughly). This, in addition to the fact that they smelled very different from the split variety when cooking, made me chicken out. Is the grey stuff normal? Should the water look "dirty" while they cook? Thanks for the the help! Your blog looks great - I look forward to trying some of your recipes! I have some of my own posted at



  11. Elise - There can be quite a bit of grey froth when you cook beans. You can skim this off. I think the smell might be related to the extra time it takes to cook whole beans compaired to split. Beans always smell a little funky at the raw stage but smell good when they're fully cooked. Try again and see what happens. (You're sure your beans aren't spoiled?)

  12. Stephanie,
    Thanks for letting me know! And for reminding me it's time to make this soup again.

  13. I added a bit of liquid smoke and some smoked paprika, delicious! Thanks for posting.

  14. Karen,
    Those sound like really good additions. I love smoked paprika.

  15. I made this for dinner tonight, and it was great! I liked the balance of sweet, sour, and pungent tastes. It was a good warm-me-up meal for a cool day! :)

  16. Cadry,
    So glad you liked it. Mung beans are so delicious, it's surprising that more people don't know about them.

  17. What a nice soup! I will give your recipe a try soon. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Just made this soup and it is absolutely delicious! As I found it a bit too bland, I used both red pepper flakes and cayenne as well as a teaspoon of chipotle chilli pepper. My local store did not have kale so I used baby spinach instead. Sure, the mung beans smell funky while being cooked - but it is totally worth it in the end!

  19. Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog

    Sandro Heckler

  20. Hello! Thanks for the recipe! So - just to add my two cents, I also found it a tid bit bland (but, to be fair, I didn't use cumin seeds, just powder, and I upped the amounts of things quite a bit ;), though a great base! I wound up adding paprika as well, and some miso and apple cider vinegar (for added tang - but that's just me. I love things tangy.) I can't wait to serve it to my fam! Blessings.

    1. Thanks for your input! I always consider recipes to be a framework, and I usually change them a little to suit my taste. I'm glad you were able to make the soup to your own preference! Who knows, maybe I would also add different things if I made it today. :)


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