Red Bean Dumpling Soup | Tang Yuan

by Melissa on February 9, 2013

red bean soup with dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of family and food. Ah food, glorious food, it’s hard to beat the Chinese New Year feasts. But for me, the best part of the new year meals would be a bowl of tang yuan.

Tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) are traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of  the lunar year. These little dumplings can be filled with something sweet, savory or nothing at all. The sweet ones are generally filled with bean paste or black sesame. The savory ones are larger and filled with meat or vegetables.

I tend to lean more on the savory side of things, except for when it comes to these. I love my red bean tang yuan (the black sesame comes in a close second).

red bean paste azuki

Red bean paste can be found pre-made in most Asian supermarkets, but I like to make my own. This way, I can control the sweetness level and omit any preservatives.

And the best part? It’s super easy to make. Especially with the help of a slow cooker and food processor.

The tang yuan are also quick to put together. Just mix the glutinous rice flour with water…

glutinous rice dough

Form the balls with the glutinous flour and red bean paste…

Boil in water…

And done!

red bean dumplings how to

Even though I used the slow cooker to make both the red bean paste and the red bean soup, you can make both on the stove top. Just bring the beans to a boil in the water then cover and let simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours until the beans are soft. But being able to “set it and forget it” has worked wonders for me lately.

So, if you don’t own a slow cooker, go get one already!

Need another excuse? Think of it as a Chinese New Year gift to yourself.

red bean soup with glutinous dumplings

Red Bean Paste
1 cup red (adzuki) beans
4 cups water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Let’s cook
Pour the beans and water into the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours until the beans are soft to the touch and squish easily between your fingers.

Remove the beans from the slow cooker and discard the water. Place the beans in a food processor and blend until it becomes a smooth paste. Then add the brown sugar and process until just combined.

Heat up the vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, then add the bean paste. Saute and cook for about 3-4 minutes so that the bean paste is slightly more dry.

Remove from heat. Now the red bean paste is ready to be used in recipes (eg. steamed buns, baozi, dumplings, mochi desserts, etc.)

Red bean paste can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week.


Red Bean Soup
makes 4 servings
1 cup red (adzuki) beans
4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

Let’s Cook
Combine the beans and water in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours.

Stir in the sugar and let cook for another hour, until the beans squish easily between your fingers.

Serve warm or cold, with or without the below tang yuan.


Red Bean Tang Yuan (dumplings) makes 10 dumplings
1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
6 tbsp water
roughly 1/4 cup red bean paste

Let’s Cook
In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour and the water. Mix with your hand until the dough forms into a soft playdoh-like substance, and not sticking to your fingers much.

Divide the dough into 10 roughly even sections, form those into small balls, then set aside. Then divide the red bean paste into 10 even pieces, form those into small balls and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

While the water is heating up, take one of the flour balls, flatten into a disk about 2.5″ to 3″ in diameter. Place one of the red bean paste balls in the center of the flour disk, pull the sides of the flour disk up and around the red bean paste, making sure to seal the red bean paste completely inside the flour mixture. Repeat for the rest of the 9 tang yuan/dumplings.

Place the tang yuan in the pot of boiling water and let boil until the balls rise to the top of the water. Remove, place in bowls of red bean soup and serve immediately.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

February 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

It was interesting to read this post, thank you! I live in China and have just been eating tang yuan (love them!) – have only ever eaten bought ones though!


February 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi Anna, Thank you! It’s so nice to hear that especially from someone in China! We don’t have tang yuan as readily available in stores here, so homemade is usually the way to go :)


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