Mung bean soup (ψιλοφάσουλα σούπα ή ροβίτσα )

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Mung bean soup

A hearty and humble soup made of nutrient packed mung beans

One of us loves beans; loves to eat them, loves to buy them, and loves to store them in her pantry in pretty glass jars where their various colours, adorable shapes and infinite possibilities can be admired. It was this love of beans, and a commitment to capturing as many of our parents’ recipes as possible, that had us inquire about a soup which we had vague and disturbing memories of. We remembered a childhood where a soup of little green beans was served, and the sadness which it elicited. When we asked our parents about it, they immediately knew what we were talking about. Psilofasola (also called rovitsa) is a Greek soup made of mung beans (pronounced moong) and it is a staple around Kalamata, Messinia, which is near where our parents were raised.

Mung bean soup

The memory of this mung bean soup was distant because we really hated it did not like it very much growing up, and so our parents stopped making it. Now, before you start thinking that our parents were progressive and open-minded and allowed their children to dictate meals, remember that we also hated spanakorizo, yet that didn’t stop it from being on the menu almost every week. We suppose that since we enjoyed fakes, and fasolatha, our parents simply turned to those legume based soups, and left psilofasola behind.

Our father was especially happy to be asked about psilofasola. This was a soup that his mother made every few days for her family. Made with ingredients which were easily accessible in the village where our dad was raised, this soup was, and still is, as nutritious and filling as it is affordable. Now we’re so happy to make its acquaintance again because our taste buds have evolved (this soup is actually delicious), and mung beans may be the cutest beans ever!

Helpful hints

According to Google, you don’t really need to soak mung beans before cooking them. But, according to our parents, you do. So, we have offered that you should soak your mung beans for at least 2 hours before cooking. This is, after all, our parents’ recipe, so we’re going to stick to their wisdom; they haven’t steered us wrong yet! (But if you prefer to trust Google, go ahead. We won’t be offended, and our parents will never know).

You can make this soup as lemony, or not, as you like. The quantity of lemon juice we have listed in the recipe gives the soup a nice, citrus-y flavour. Feel free to serve your soup with some extra lemon wedges to give people the option of adding more lemon juice if they would like. Also, serve your mung bean soup with lots of fresh bread, because bread is delicious and is great for dipping into the soup broth.

This soup freezes beautifully. If you freeze in individual serving containers, this makes a nutritious and easy take-along lunch. You will then have something delicious to eat mid-day and have the added bonus of telling curious co-workers or co-students that you are eating mung bean soup, a traditional vegan soup from Kalamata. How exotic this humble soup sounds!

Mung bean soup

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Mung bean soup

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Mung bean soup
Mung bean soup
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5 from 1 vote

Mung bean soup (ψιλοφάσουλα σούπα)

A hearty and humble bean soup flavoured with lemon and oregano
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Bean soaking time2 hrs
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 4 people
Author: Mia Kouppa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry mung beans
  • 1 onion, medium
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) olive oil
  • 6 – 7 cups water (1,500-1,750 mL)
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Rinse your mung beans and pick over any stones or shriveled beans. Rinse and then soak in a bowl of cold water for approximately 2 hours. (See Recipe Notes)
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the finely diced onion, celery and dry oregano. Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
  • Drain the mung beans and add them to the pot, along with the water.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook, covered, for 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Check your beans for doneness; when done, add the salt, pepper and lemon juice to the soup.

Notes

Technically, mung beans do not need to be soaked before cooking. We have included a few hours of soaking time however because this is how our parents always prepare their mung beans; they believe that it makes the beans easier to digest and cook.  You can choose to take their advice, or not.  

26 responses to “Mung bean soup (ψιλοφάσουλα σούπα ή ροβίτσα )”

  1. popsiclesociety Avatar

    Humble but delicious 🙂

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      It certainly is!! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. Sarah Avatar
    Sarah

    Thank you – just made this for the first time and it was delicious 🙂

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Oh yeah!! So great to hear Sarah! One of our daughter’s likes this soup so much we make it every couple of weeks for her lunch at school 🙂

  3. Rita Camilo Avatar
    Rita Camilo

    Finally, I found a way to use a bag of mung beans which has been sitting in my pantry for a while. Most mung bean recipes I came across were way too spiced for my liking. This one has the seasonings and flavors I love and grew up with – onion, olive oil, black pepper, lemon – and it’s absolutely delicious, perfect for a light lunch or a quick dinner option. Thank you for this recipe.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Rita! We are so happy to help you use your mung beans!! We find these some of the cutest beans, and we wish more people would cook with them. So good, and so good for you. It does make for a great take along lunch too – our mung bean soup often makes it into our children’s’ lunches. Have a great day! and thanks again for your comment 🙂

  4. Ari Avatar
    Ari

    Ofcourse the digestion is easier when you soak and throw water. You can also boil 5 minutes, throw the water and then refill fresh again.
    Common method with lentils too.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Yes, we do this with lentils as well. Every little bit helps 🙂

  5. Sarah Avatar
    Sarah

    Other bean ideas for this besides mung beans? I’ve never seen mung beans in any stores here in Northern California, although I’m sure specialty stores might carry them.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Sarah. You could probably find mung beans in Asian and South East Asian stores, but if you don’t we think that you could easily substitute another type of bean – the flavours here are so simple. Navy beans or small pinto beans would probably work really well. Also, if you are looking for other bean soup recipes, we have plenty. Simply check out our Recipe List and scroll down to Soups – there you’ll find all sorts of traditional Greek soups, and some others as well. Hope that helps. xoxo Helen & Billie

    2. BBC Avatar
      BBC

      Mung bean pancakes. Soak two hours in water, drain, add a bit of water or (nut or dairy) milk process in a high speed blender until it is pancake or crepe batter consistency per your preference. Cook as if they were regular crepes or pancakes, can add any savory spice or diced scallions like scallion pancakes!

  6. Keshia Avatar
    Keshia

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have been searching for ways to make moong beans more palatable since I need to eat them more often for health reasons. I have such an aversion to them the way they have most often been presented to me that I’ve made several batches this week but just couldn’t bring myself to eat them. I am trying this recipe today! Gonna try it without oil though…

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      That’s great Keshia! We really hope that you love this soup – it is a favourite of one of our daughters. If you don’t need to avoid the oil, we do suggest adding at least a bit of it – it really does add a nice flavour (although the soup will likely be great without it too.) Let us know what you think! We look forward to hearing back from you. 🙂 xoxo Helen & Billie

  7. Vered Avatar
    Vered

    This is actually the best mung bean recipe I’ve tasted so far 🙂 made it with fresh oregano as I like it much better than the dry.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Vered!! This is so great to hear! We’re thrilled that you love our mung bean soup – it’s one of our favourites as well. Great to change it up with the oregano to make it more to your liking! Hope you continue to find much to love here 😉 xoxo Helen & Billie

  8. katinahughes2014 Kathryn Hughes Avatar

    Looking forward to making this. Have you tried it with chicken stock? I have a freezer half full of quart containers of stock that I do have to use up .

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Kathryn! We haven’t made it with chicken stock since we like to keep this a vegan soup – however, if that is not important to you, the chicken stock would be a lovely and delicious change. Enjoy!!

  9. Kathryn Hughes Avatar

    Thanks! Went right over my head that I can make this when I am fasting. I’ll add it to the rotation.

  10. Kathryn Hughes Avatar

    Thanks! Went right over my head that I can make this when we are fasting. I’ll add it to the to rotation.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      You’re welcome!! Enjoy!

  11. Nadine Avatar
    Nadine

    can I make it in the pressure pot?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Nadine! We haven’t so can’t really advise on cooking times etc…, but there is not reason why it wouldn’t work in a pressure cooker. xoxo Helen & Billie

  12. David Avatar
    David

    I was ignorant of the fact that mung beans were used in Greek cooking! I had only associated them with China/ East Asia. These things were being traded long ago of course. I wonder who found them first?
    Really like this simple but delicious soup.
    I love olive oil so added some extra in my bowl plus some zataar!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Thank you David! It is a great soup, and not that well known, even amongst Greek home cooks! Mung beans were a staple for our parents when they were growing up in the village, and this simple preparation was one of their favourite ways to enjoy them. So happy that you tried the recipe, and that you enjoyed it 🙂 (Love the idea of adding zataar by the way). xoxo Helen & Billie

  13. Cindy Witt Avatar
    Cindy Witt

    Hi! Does this mung bean soup recipe can well?

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Hi Cindy! We’ve never canned this soup, but we would imagine that it would work out really well. It freezes well too! Enjoy, Helen & Billie

  14. Calliope Avatar
    Calliope

    This soup is pure goodness. Food for the soul. Reminds me of my Yiayia who I miss so much. She was from a village near Kalamata originally. She made this soup often for us. Thank you for posting the recipe x I’m making a big pot for a friend sick at home with Covid.

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      Thank you for commenting Calliope! We are thrilled that you love this soup, and that it reminds you of your Yiayia! It’s not a super popular soup outside of Messinia but those of us who know it, love it 🙂 We hope your friend recovers quickly – and that she becomes a mung bean soup lover as well! xoxo Helen & Billie

  15. Annie Hill Avatar
    Annie Hill

    I eat mung beans a lot with Indian cuisine, but it’s lovely to get this Mediterranean spin on them. I shall make it for lunch on this wet and windy day.

    If you eat beans a lot (I do), and cook them in a pressure cooker, there is no reason to soak mung beans. I never do. I bring them up to pressure, give them 10 minutes and let the pressure come down at room temperature. (Follow instructions for whole lentils if this sounds wrong for your pressure cooker.)

    I will use celery seed, having no celery. I have no fridge, and live alone, so it’s hard to get through a bunch of celery before it deteriorates. Celery seed adds the flavour, but not the texture, of course!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      The celery seed sounds like a great alternative Annie! Enjoy the recipe! xoxo Helen & Billie

  16. evatesq Avatar

    This dish is amazing!! Easy to make and VERY tasty!!

    1. miakouppa Avatar

      So happy to hear that you loved it!!! Thank you xoxo Helen & Billie

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