I love beets. I could eat them everyday. I don't, but I could. Raw, steamed, roasted, boiled, I love them six ways from Sunday.
I had a couple big beautiful beets in my crisper that need to be used, and I had a hankering for a creamy soup. Hmn. So, I decided to mix those lovely beets with another one of my favorite red foods, the azuki bean. I feel the same way about azukis as I do about beets; I could eat them everyday, prepared any way. A tiny red bean with a sweet flavor, azukis are highly valued in Asian cuisine, and are, by far, one of my favorite beans. And thus, a pureed soup was born, with a ruby red color, a creamy texture, and an impressive list of health benefits.
Beets have long been valued in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda as effective tools in treating uterine and reproductive disorders, especially those of the female variety. Additionally, they are thought to support the liver, nourish the blood, and stimulate the bowels. Azukis serve a similar function. Thought to be one of the most overall healing beans, azukis support kidney and bladder function, dry dampness, stabilize irregular menstrual cycles, and help regulate bowel function. Like all beans, azukis are a great source of protein and fiber. They cook quickly compared to many larger beans, and can be used in sweet and savory dishes. If you buy them dry, they are always cheapest at Asian markets, or find them canned at nicer grocery stores or natural markets (Eden Organics makes some great canned azukis).
I chose to flavor the soup with warming spices to help stimulate digestion; the sweetness of the beets, beans, and onion is well complimented by mild hints of cumin, coriander, mustard and turmeric. This is a wonderfully balanced dish all on its own, nourishing all five elements - beets nourish earth, azukis nourish water, onions nourish metal, parsley nourishes wood, and the spices nourish fire. Mildly flavored, detoxifying, and oh so tasty, this is a soup that will help cure what ails you and leaving you feeling well-nourished. One of the reasons I like this soup is because its ruby red appearance is indicative of its effect on the body, calling to mind the deep red of our liver, kidneys, and blood. I know that thinking about blood while eating red soup may not be the most appealing thing, but I like it when things are symbiotic like that. Since my liver, kidneys, and menstrual cycle could all use some support, this soup provided exactly what my body needed: dinner and medicine.
Serve alone for a simple light meal, or accompany with sea vegetables or sautéed greens, raw sliced veggies, and your favorite grain dish or bread for something more substantial. Enjoy!
HEALING RUBY SOUP (gluten free, vegetarian/vegan)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 large beets, peeled and diced (about 3 c)
1.5-2 c cooked azuki beans
5-6 c water or stock
ghee or olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 T azuki tamari, soy tamari, or Bragg's aminos
handful fresh parsley, finely minced
- In a large pot, heat ghee or olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and turmeric, stir, and heat until seeds start to pop.
- Add sliced onion, and stir to coat, adding more oil/ghee if necessary. Turn heat down to low, cover, and let onions sweat for 5-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until they are transparent and caramelized.
- Add chopped beets and stir to mix. Cover and cook for a few minutes.
- Add water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let cook until beets are tender.
- Stir in cooked beans, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender or regular blender/food processor, puree soup until smooth.
- Return to heat, and season with tamari and freshly minced parsely. Let cook for an additional 5 minutes, allowing for flavors to meld.
- Enjoy! If desired, garnish with additional fresh parsley.