Lotus Root Soup with Corn and Red Beans

Lotus Root Soup with Corn and Red Beans

"The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud." – Buddhist proverb

I'm starting this post with this popular saying to give you an idea of the symbolic significance of the sacred lotus plant in Buddhist and Hindu art and literature. Straightforwardly, it means rising above the murk and resembles the purification of the human spirit. 

More importantly, I'd like you to get a mental image of where lotus roots, today's featured vegetable on the Spring Discovery series, come from. Mud. Yes, mud. 

Lotus roots are rhizomes of the lotus flower that grow in muddy ponds across Asia, known for the striking pattern of holes that reveal themselves when cut crosswise. As a young child in Malaysia, I called lotus root the "telephone vegetable", and I grew up having them boiled in soup with peanuts. The lotus root soup recipe I'm sharing here is a vegetarian version that I now make. 

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Red Bean Soup and Peanut Mochi

Red Bean Soup and Peanut Mochi

Peanuts for a long life, sticky rice for togetherness, red beans for love, oranges for good fortune... And all that sweetness for a sweet life in the new year!

Make no mistake, Chinese New Year is about food: the preparation, cooking, and eating are all a part of the ceremonious celebration that lasts about two weeks. It is when we eat special foods that carry symbolic significance for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year. It is also when food is in abundance and generously shared to bring forth a full and contented spirit to start the year with. At this time of the year, more is always better and sharing truly is caring!

Today, in celebration of the lunar new year, I have two sweet recipes for you: Red Bean Soup and Peanut Mochi that are especially delicious enjoyed together. The recipes are adapted from the impressive China: The Cookbook, my friendly cooking companion this festive season. And it could be yours too as I'm giving away a copy! (Scroll down for details on how to win.)  

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Adzuki Fudge Brownies with Goji Berries (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Adzuki Fudge Brownies with Goji Berries (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I would've found it very difficult to comprehend if you told me a couple years ago that I could make brownies with beans. In fact, I wasn't eating brownies a few years ago. I have been on one form of elimination diet or another for so long that my recently-liberated palate is a clean slate. So when I was introduced to the idea of flourless brownies made with black beans, I didn't bat an eye, even when the only black bean I know is found in a Chinese sauce, usually fermented.  

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