Aren't mung beans pretty? I know you've had mung bean sprouts in one form or another (perhaps an Asian stir-fry, Chinese take-out, or a Banh Mi sandwich), but it's far less likely you've tried them whole.
I couldn't resist these jade beauties on one of my visits to Central Foods in Houston--I tend to lose most of my self-control in bulk food sections in general, and the variety at Central Market is glorious. You can purchase mung beans split (called mung dal), but I had to have the whole ones. The price was right--a mere 89 cents per pound--so into a bag they slid.
And onto my pantry shelf they sat for the next 9 months. Until Thursday, when at long last, they made their debut in a rosemary-scented soup.
I was perusing the Whole Foods Market legume cooking guide earlier in the afternoon when I was reminded of my mung bean stash. An operative sentence caught my attention: "They need no pre-soaking [and] cook quickly..." In short, mung beans are akin to split peas and lentils: quick from stove to suppertime and perfect for dinner procrastinators. I checked the refrigerator and pantry for carrots, celery, onions, and garlic (check, check, check, and check) and set to work making a soup based on one of my favorite French lentil soup recipes.
Some things are best left unsaid. Particularly to husbands. Even more so to hungry husbands. For example, "We're having mung bean soup for dinner." I kept my silence and the soup was sipped and savored (under an uncorrected assumption that said soup was lentil) without incident. Enjoy!
Just before pureeing; you can use an immersion blender instead of a standard blender, if you like.
Rosemary Mung Bean (or Lentil) Soup
Makes about 8 generous servings
No need to seek out mung beans for this recipe; an equal amount of lentils will do. But if you have some mung beans lurking in the cupboard, do give them a try!
1-1/2 tbsp extra–virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1-1/2 cups chopped celery
1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
6 cups water
1-1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups dried mung beans or lentils, rinsed, drained
1 28–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, undrained
1-2 tsp Balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. In a large saucepan over medium–high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; cook and stir until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
2. Add water, salt, beans, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until beans are very tender, about 50 minutes.
3. Transfer 3 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more water by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls.