Widely cultivated in the Far East and Indian subcontinent, the sad neglect of the bright green mung bean deprives busy cooks elsewhere of a nourishing and time-saving friend. Soaked overnight, mung beans cook in as little as 20 minutes and provide an easily digestible source of protein, dietary fibre as well as thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and copper. Best of all, the mild and slightly astringent taste of mung beans pairs easily with almost any variety of vegetables and spices for simple, wholesome and delicious dishes that form a complete meal when served with rice or other grains.
Use this recipe as a simple template for quick and easy mung bean and vegetable soups, adjusting spices to suit your taste and incorporating your own favourite vegetables at intervals suited to their cooking times. In this case I used three carrots added with the beans at the beginning of boiling, and half a cup of fresh garden peas 5 minutes before finishing. Wholesome, warming and delicious, this mung bean and vegetable soup is thick enough to serve on a bed of rice or on its own in a bowl, and is a satisfying dinner solution when time is a cook's precious commodity.
Asafoetida powder — the ground resin of a fennel-like plant found in Asia — is a pungent spice reminiscent of onions and garlic but far more digestible (many Indians avoid onions and garlic altogether in favour of asafoetida). It is easily found in Indian and Asian grocers, and should be added to hot oil for only a few moments. If you don't have asafoetida, add one clove of minced or crushed garlic with the other spices.
This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair, one of my favorite events started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and hosted this month by Monsoon Spice.
Mung Bean and Vegetable SoupOther mung bean dishes you may enjoy:
1 cup dried mung beans
1 to 2 cups chopped vegetables
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Rinse the mung beans under cold running water and soak overnight in a bowl covered in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans and add to a medium saucepan. Cover with 3 cups of fresh cold water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, stir in the cayenne and turmeric, and cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally.
If using root vegetables such as potatoes or carrots, add to the pan with the beans and water. Add other vegetables at intervals suited to their cooking times (e.g., after 10 minutes for green beans, after 15 to 20 minutes for corn or peas).
When the beans and vegetables are cooked, remove from heat. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the brown mustard seeds, wait a few moments to let the seeds start to splutter, then quickly stir in the cumin and coriander. Toss in the asafoetida, stir once, then pour the seasonings into the soup. Let the soup sit for a few minutes to let the flavours mingle.
Season with salt to taste, and serve hot or warm. Serves 4.
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On the top of the reading stack: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Audio Accompaniment: Vibrant Forms II by Fluxion