Chinese Green Bean Dessert Soup 绿豆汤
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A traditional warm weather Asian dessert with Chinese and Ayurvedic medicinal benefits.
Recipe type: Desserts
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4-6
  • 5oz / 140g green beans, washed & drained
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 stalk pandan (screwpine) leaves, washed and knotted into a bunch
  • ½ cup sugar, preferably rock sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 large thinly sliced ginger pieces
  • 1½ oz / 40g tapioca pearls (sago) rinsed 2-3 times (optional)
  • 8-10oz / 3-4 small yellow or orange sweet potatoes, cubed (optional)
  • 4oz / 120ml thick coconut milk (optional)
  1. Rinse green beans under water and soak for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Drain the beans.
  2. Boil 6 cups of water with pandan (screwpine) leaves.
  3. When water is boiling, add sweet potatoes. Boil till the outside is just starting to become tender.
  4. Add green beans and continue boiling at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Watch the pot - it can easily boil over and create a mess.
  5. Meanwhile, if using tapioca pearls (sago), rinse and drain 2-3 times to rid it of some of the starchiness. I find that it detracts from the texture of the green beans if the soup is too starchy. Set aside.
  6. When beans begin to split, add sugar and salt and stir till dissolved. You don't want to over boil it; the soup will turn mushy. There should be still some chewiness in the beans. (However, if preparing for elderly or folks with digestive ailments, a longer boil makes the beans easier to digest).
  7. Add tapioca pearls (sago) and stir till pearls rise to the top and look translucent.
  8. Ladle into bowls and serve warm as a dessert. Add 1-2 Tbsp of thick coconut milk to each bowl if desired.
  9. Leftovers can be refrigerated and served cold or warmed up.
Prepared in under 30 minutes if beans have already been soaked.

Rock sugar or palm sugar is best; table sugar leaves a very slight sour taste.

To retain some chewiness in the beans, do not boil for too long till it turns mushy. However, if preparing for elderly or folks with digestive ailments, a longer boil makes the beans easier to digest.

If using tapioca pearls, rinse it well under water to remove most of the excess starch.

Red bean dessert soup can be prepared in the same way.
Recipe by Ginger and Cilantro at