Soups, Chilis & Stews

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Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans (a.k.a. "azuki" beans) are a staple of the macrobiotic diet, which calls for the consumption of plenty of fibrous, protein-packed legumes. Macrobiotics considers adzukis to be the most "yang" of all beans, good for imparting strength, and they help people keep warm in cool weather. Known for their healing properties in Traditional Chinese Medicine, adzukis are said to support kidney, bladder and reproductive functions. Cooking dried adzuki beans is tricky, lest they cook unevenly and remain tough on the inside.  When correctly done, however, they are delicious, will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, and enhance any meal.  The key is steady, slow and gentle heat (and never boiling), applied for the correct minimum times.  This recipe requires being near the stove on and off for several hours, but the results are well worth it when you can manage it.  Optionally, you can add chopped onion and/or winter squash in second half of cooking, and maybe reduce the liquid near the end to make more of a stew, but the beans are delicious all by themselves.Lastly, if you don't have kelp ("kombu" in Japanese), and don't want to order any, this dish can be done without it (see notes below), but it will take even a little longer to cook. 

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