I didn't particularly love these soups when I was younger. They didn't taste bad at all, but beans, grains, and fruits all together didn't always sound appetizing to me. My mom normally had to make me eat it.
Anyhow, as I grew older I started enjoying these soups more. I was actually craving a serving of azuki and Asian pearl barley soup the other day! I got a small bag of azuki beans, and a bag of Asian Pearl Barley from the Asian store and made a batch. My mom is going to be so impressed when she knows about this.
I think my mom makes this azuki and Asian pearl barley soup in a pressure cooker, but I used my slow cooker instead. Here what I did:
I soaked 1/2 cup each of the azuki beans and Asian pearl barley in water for a few hours. From what I know 2 hours would have been all right. I then placed them in the slow cooker, 6 cups of water (bean/grain:water = 1:6), and cook it on low overnight (approx. 8 hours) and it was done! I then added some white rock sugar to it to taste.*
OK here's what I know about *adding sugar to the soup:
1) NEVER add the sugar or sweetner to the soup until the beans and grains were throughly cooked (where the beans will "open up".)
2) Rock sugar is cool, but it doesn't quite sweeten the soup enough unless you put a lot of it in. I've found that I like to use rock sugar when I make soy sauce stews, but not in a sweet bean soup like this. I only put in about 1/2 cup... it didn't taste sweet at all, but since I didn't know how much I was supposed to put in to "sweeten" the soup, I gave up. Instead, I left the cooked soup as is, and then just add some sugar (or splenda) or honey in the individual serving bowl to taste. It seems to work better this way for me.
This soup can be served hot or chilled. I like my chilled and sweet. I'm also thinking it may be good with some cream as well, but I have yet to try it. The azuki beans and Asian pearl barley together are said to improve "blood flow" and circulation. Pretty neat-o.