In traditional Chinese culture, red bean soup is a popular dessert, usually served as a final course at large Cantonese banquets. But on the streets of Southeast Asia, this soup is typically sold from tiny carts in most major marketplaces as a snack or for breakfast.

Regardless of the location it was served at in Southeast Asia, Sebastian Gee, head chef at China Diner, remembers he spent many mornings sitting on the curbside, watching the world go by, soup in hand. “It was always served either in a plastic bag or a small chipped bowl,” he says, “and always came garnished with treats such as fresh longons, red dates or lotus seeds.”

Red Bean Soup with Coconut


300g red adzuki beans
250g yellow rock sugar
2 pandan or screwpine leaves
1 orange – zest only (use a vegetable peeler for best results without pith)
1l water
1 can coconut milk (400mls)
coconut flesh from 1/2 an old (brown) coconut
coconut cream for garnish
roast peanuts for garnish


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Soak the red beans overnight, wash and drain the following day.

In a large pot combine all ingredients except coconut cream, peanuts and coconut flesh. Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the beans are soft. This should take approximately 2–3 hours. Add more water as needed during the cooking process.

Once the beans are cooked (can easily be broken with the back of a spoon), take off heat and remove orange zest from the water. Then, zest the coconut’s flesh into long shards, and place in the hot liquid.

To serve:
Serve hot or cold and garnish with a splash of coconut cream and a handful of roasted peanuts.

This piece was produced in partnership with the new CONNOISSEUR Empire Collection, which includes the 'Emperor Jing Zong’ ice cream with red bean and coconut.

View our entire Empire flavour exploration here.