Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 20, 2017

© Richard Jung

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Mimi’s bean soup

Large butterfly beans (bei leikpya in Burmese), pale green beans tinged with pink, are used here, but you can substitute fresh or frozen lima beans. The beans are cooked in water with lots of shallots to make a mild, slightly sweet soup. Near the end, fresh greens are added as much for their medicinal properties as for their flavor.

Use a mixture of two or three different greens. Depending on the time of year, possible choices include pea tendrils, sawtooth herb, sorrel leaves, nasturtium leaves, tender endive or other tender leaves.


1 c. (250 ml) fresh butterfly beans, shelled, or fresh or frozen lima beans
4 c. (1 L) water
1½ c. (375 ml) minced shallots
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) turmeric
2 tsp. (10 ml) fish or soy sauce
1 to 2 tsp. (5 to 10 ml) salt, or to taste
2 c. (500 ml) loosely packed greens


Place the beans in a medium pot, add the water and shallots, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric, lower the heat to maintain a strong simmer, and cook until the beans are tender, adding more hot water if needed.

If using pre-cooked frozen beans, they’ll be ready quickly; otherwise, timing will vary with the freshness and size of your beans.

If you wish, puree the beans and broth before proceeding; return to the pot.

Add the fish or soy sauce and salt to taste. Bring to a gentle boil, stir in the greens and serve. Put out a chili sauce for guests who like to spice things up. Serves 4 or 5.

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