Imagine after finishing a wonderful meal of spicy Szechuan food at an excellent restaurant in Flushing, Queens, you are presented with a bowl of something that appears to be lentil soup. You didn’t ask for it, but there it is, sitting in front of you. Your dining companions have some, too, and you shoot questioning looks at each other. Did the waiter bring you someone else’s order? Isn’t everyone stuffed to the point where a bowl of soup is really not welcome so much as a nap? Did the waiter just mumble something about green beans? You take your spoon, swirl it around, and bring some soup up for closer inspection. There are stock-like meaty-looking particles as well as lentil or barley-ish bits floating in a green and brown “broth.” A sniff reveals nothing.
A slurp and you realize that you’ve got a sweet (dessert?) soup that doesn’t taste like much other than lentil soup with a lot of sugar in it. There’s no meat flavor, just bland sweetness. Later research reveals that, as an antidote to the extreme spiciness of the cuisine, Szechuan cooks make this soup from green (or mung) beans, which are believed to cool and soothe the palate. Cooling? Yes. Tasty? Meh. Neat-o? Definitely.