02 September 2012

Moong Bean Tomato Soup

Doug and I eat a lot of bean soups. After all, why not? Bean soups answer every need: cheap, healthy, filling, and comforting in the winter. Also, practically no one is allergic to them. The only problem is that bean soups bore the palate after a while, especially if you eat them for dinner every single night. Doug varies his bean soups by adding canned pumpkin or Italian sausage.  I like to revolve through a variety of beans. I make a tamarind-sour red lentil soup, a lemony split pea soup, a curried brown lentil soup, an eye-watering kimchi tofu and rice soup, and most recently a cozy moong bean soup.

The Indian people display a special genius for the legume family. I've never eaten a dal I didn't like. So when you grown bored with American-style beans, head over to an Indian grocer. Check out the rainbow of dals, both split and whole, that line the shelves. You may feel inspired to start making Indian bean soups. (Indian beans are still quite cheap.) If you don't live near an Indian grocer, order some Indian beans online. Dried beans travel well.
Some places online to buy Indian beans:
Indian Foods Co.
I Shop Indian
Indian Blend
Desi 911
Patel Brothers
Desi Mart

This particular soup was inspired by three fancier recipes created by Mark Bittman, who is not Indian and therefore tends to use more accessible ingredients in his recipes. I was able to make the entire soup in an hour. It won't take as long if you use split moong beans. I used whole. Whole moong beans are olive green in color with a tiny white stripe (see above).

Serves 4 to 8, depending on who's counting

Moong Bean Tomato Soup

1 Cup whole moong beans (dried)
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, washed
6 Cups or 48 fluid ounces of vegetable broth (I use Imagine No-Chicken)
salt and pepper

Equipment: 1 medium pot, 1 small pot

  1. Wash the moong beans, being careful to pick through and make sure there aren't any small stones. 
  2. Put moong beans and the vegetable broth in the medium pot. Heat on medium-high heat until boiling. Lower to a bare simmer, cover tightly, and cook 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, fill the small pot with water. Bring to a boil. 
  4. Cut a small X in the bottom of the tomato. Blanch it in the boiling water by immersing it for 30 to 60 seconds. Take it out, let it cool a few minutes, and then peel off the skin with your fingers. Chop the tomato into small pieces.
  5. Add the tomato to the moong bean soup—it doesn't matter where in the cooking process it is.
  6. When the beans finish cooking, have a sip. Don't double-dip the spoon! Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy hot.
Optional additions: fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne

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