In the Western world, most people think of eating soup in the autumn and winter to warm themselves up. However, with the emphasis on more sustainable living and economizing, adding pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, dry peas) to meals can add extra protein and fiber, making meat and vegetarian dishes go further.
However, in China and the rest of Asia, food, especially soups, plays a necessary part in maintaining and protecting health. Therefore, consuming the right foods to support our qi energy and balance our yin and yang is very important in Chinese culture.
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Reducing the effects of summer heat
Excessive heat waves from global warming are dominating our summer. Besides what we can do individually to help forestall the persistent rise in average global temperatures, what can we do immediately to offset the impact on our bodies? The answer for many Chinese and Asians inevitably turns to the foods we consume.
So, the question of eating red bean soup or mung (green) bean soup in summer becomes thus sensible and not just for taste preference. Both red beans and mung beans can reduce body fire. Fire is the element connected to the summer heat, while fire is associated with the heart.
Summer months are hot and stuffy. In the current worldwide heatwave, which soup would be the best to cool the body from the inside and regulate qi? Generally, people consider mung bean soup the right choice because it can clear heat and reduce internal fire. But is that the correct choice? Let’s look at the science behind the different bean soups.
External fire and internal fire
“In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), fire is divided into the external fire and internal fire,” said Dr. Zong-han Zhou, the attending physician in the Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Taipei United Hospital’s Renai Campus.
External fire will cause the body to appear red, swollen, hot, painful, and exhibit other inflammatory symptoms, such as bad breath, tasting bitterness, acne, and constipation. Drinking heat-clearing mung (green) bean soup is best if these symptoms occur.
Internal fire, also known as “heart fire,” is usually related to emotions. For example, the hot summer weather makes us irritable, which can cause dysfunction of the internal organs, resulting in insomnia and dreaminess. At the same time, symptoms include slow reactions, fatigue, and edema. Drinking red bean (adzuki) soup at this time can help nourish the heart.
Red beans are red food for the heart. They have the effect of clearing the heart and nourishing the blood. Summer is also the best time to feed the heart. The heart encompasses the spirit as well as the organ itself.
Chinese herbalist Yali Zhu says that eating red beans and other red food to nourish the heart in summer makes us emotionally calm and energetic makes the heart more robust and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
Red bean, lotus seed, and lily soup
According to Dr. Zong-han Zhou, red beans are more effective when combined with lotus seeds and lilies in soup because lotus seeds can nourish the heart and remove heart fire, while lilies can clear the heart and calm the mind.
- Red beans (adzuki) — 50 g
- Lotus seeds — 30 g
- Dried lilies — 10 g
- White mushrooms — 30 g
- Goji berries — 5 g
- Rock sugar to taste
- Soak the red beans for two hours, soak the white mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes, then cut them into pieces
- Put water into a pot, add the mushrooms and bring to a boil; simmer on low heat for 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Put fresh water into a pot, then add red beans and bring to a boil; add the mushroom soup stock, add the lotus seeds, and boil together for 30 minutes
- Add dried lilies and goji berries, continue to boil for 15 minutes and add rock sugar to season