This humble green bean soup is one of the unsung heroes of Philippine comfort food. Everyone loves it, but it’s not exactly the favorite Filipino dish. It isn’t right up there with the classic Filipino favorites — adobo, lechon, sisig & lumpia. I’ve never been to a Filipino party that had this dish served. But of course, President Duterte served it to Japanese Prime Minister Abe when he came over for breakfast in his home.
My memories of eating mung bean soup has always been tied to my mom’s home. My most recent one was in January 2016. You see, I am the only unfortunate sibling who gets woken up to cook. One day, she woke me up by saying “Ate, (big sister) get up, I already boiled the mung beans, so you can make it for lunch.” There I was, jetlagged and all sorts of disoriented – got out of bed and starts cooking. As I was about to finish, my Kuya (older brother) comes down the stairs and with a huge smile on his face – “Ya makin’ mung bean soup?”
- Mung beans, whole – one bag, sold in the Asian market
- Garlic, chopped
- Onions, chopped
- Meat of choice, optional
- Soup stock/chicken cube/ beef cube / vegetable cube (Optional. The flavors rendered by sauteed garlic and onion is pretty good!)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bagoong (Filipino Shrimp or Fish Paste) / Patis (Fish Sauce, in any nationality) / Seujeot (Korean Shrimp Paste) / Dashi, optional but we do know the umami from these sauces really just adds more flavor depth.
- Cooking oil
- About 6-8 quart soup pot. Better if you have two of them.
- In a huge pot, boil the mung beans in a lot of water until it breaks in half. Set aside. If you boiled it in too much water, take some of the water out.
- In another huge pot, saute garlic and onions until light brown. (If you don’t have another huge pot then transfer the beans to another container.)
- <Meat version, if not adding meat skip to next step> Add meat, and salt and pepper to taste. If using bagoong/seujeot, add it now to flavor the meat. Saute until almost fully cooked – you need to extract the meat juices to flavor the mung bean soup. If you’ve managed to crispify the meat like the photo above, take it out and add it as a topping later. If not, that’s fine. Keep it in the soup.
- Add boiled mung beans and soup stock or chicken/vegetable/beef cube with more water if needed.
- Let it simmer for 10 mins while adjusting the soup to taste with pepper, salt or dashi.
- Serve with white rice.
This soup is my go-to for attempted weight loss (and weight maintenance). I am aware that this has low calories and high in uric acid – so if you have gout or if your joints will hurt after dinner, get the painkillers ready. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Happy eating!