The soybean, also called soy or soya, is an annual plant native to Central and Eastern Asia. The earliest records of this plant dates back to the 2nd millenium B.C. although, it was probably known about long before that. Until the late nineteenth century it was grown only in China, but afterwards the crop has become hugely successful, especially in the American continent. From an agronomic point of view, this plant is very versatile. Even though it needs a lot of water, it has a very short cycle and can be grown in the second harvest, after cereals. Since the end of the twentieth century, the soybean has undergone genetic improvement by manipulating the DNA in the genetic makeup. Within the seed, a protein that confers resistance to one of the most popular active ingredients in pesticides – glyphosate – has been inserted. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a drastic reduction in the biodiversity of this plant. More than 60% of the soybeans grown worldwide are genetically modified. All our soy is GMO-free, because we are extremely careful and selective to our seed choices, which are analyzed each year before sowing.
Compared to other legumes, soybeans have a different nutritional profile. They have a higher content of protein, especially of fat, while there is less starch. Soy also contains isoflavones which is recognized to help with high cholesterol. In addition, the presence of phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) acts as a substitute for natural shortages, such as menopause. They counteract the onset of osteoporosis, whose main cause is precisely the reduction of the estrogens production by the female body. It also seems that the phytoestrogens and isoflavones also protect against degenerative diseases in men and women. Soy is a very important source of protein in vegetarian diet, and it is definitely a great product, but it can not be used as a universal substitute for milk (soy milk) or meat (veggie burgers), because the excessive consumption of soy makes difficult to absorb micronutrients, such as zinc.
How to use them:
A wide number of products can be created from soy bean: soy milk, a product obtained from the Asian tradition of grinding the seed, and extracting it after boiling it in water; tofu or bean curd, obtained by the coagulation of soy milk with salts of magnesium, calcium or vinegar; tempeh, made from the husked seed, boiled in water and fermented for 24-48 hours by a fungus (genus Rhizopus); fermented products (sauces and beverages), typical in oriental cuisine. In addition, the small seed varieties, if left to sprout, become bean sprouts, which can be eaten as a fresh vegetable. Soybeans can be cooked like the other various types of beans, simply increasing the soaking and cooking times.
Basic recipe: this legume needs at least 24 hours of pre -soaking and 150 minutes of cooking, after having carefully cleaned and washed them.
Ingredients (amount for 200g of tofu): 500 g soybeans, lemon juice, salt, water.
Preparation: soak the soybeans for about 24 hours. While they are soaking, change the water a couple of times. Whisk the soy, leaving it in its water, as it becomes dense. Pour the puree into a saucepan, adding a little water to dilute. Cook it, stirring frequently. Once it begins to boil, cook it for 20 more minutes. Turn off the heat and filter it through a sieve, separating the milk made from soy. The soybeans can be used in a stew or soup, adding salt. However, what is needed to make tofu, is the soy milk. Pour the lemon juice into in the milk. It will begin to form lumps that will separate from the clear liquid, remaining on the surface. Place a cotton cloth in a colander in which you will pour the contents to drip for about 20 minutes. Finally, transfer to a container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days covered by a layer of water.
Cream of yellow soy and potatoes
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 300 g yellow soybeans, 3 medium potatoes, 1 leek, 1 carrot, 1 bay leaf, salt, extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking Instructions: boil the soybeans according to the basic recipe, adding the bay leaves to the cooking water. Once the soy is almost cooked, add the peeled and diced potatoes and leeks, the whole carrot, and finally, some salt to taste. Remove the bay leaf and simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the ingredients are very tender.
Now blend it all, leaving the extra soy broth to your discretion, however remember that you may need to use it to keep the mixture smooth, so don’t throw the excess broth away immediately. It’s delicious served as is, but you can also add some whole-wheat croutons, a little olive oil and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): garlic (one or two cloves depending on taste), 300 g soy, 1 large white onion, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, chickpea flour, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: boil the soybeans according to the basic recipe, adding the bay leaf to the cooking water. Fill the blender (or mixer) with the well-drained soy (without the laurel), extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Blend the mixture until it is soft and smooth and let it sit for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Prepare the falafel taking a small quantity of the mixture and make balls with the help of the chickpea flour. Once they are ready, leave in the refrigerator for 1 hour, so that their forms set. Warm up a good amount of oil in a frying pan, then fry the falafel until they become golden brown. Serve still warm on long thin wooden sticks, with finely chopped green salad that has been dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and abbundant lemon juice.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings): 100 g soybean, 100 g mung beans, 100 g adzuki beans, 1 bay leaf, carrot, onion and celery, 2 potatoes, salt, extra virgin olive oil
Cooking Instructions: soak all of the beans for 24 hours. After soaking them, place all of them in a pressure cooker with water (3 times the amount of its volume), add the bay leaf and bring the cooker to pressure. Cook for an hour and a half. After the cooking time is up, let the steam out from the pressure cooker and remove the cover. Now, after removing the bay leaf, divide the mixture into two parts, and salt. One part will be left on the burner with potatoes that have been peeled and cut into cubes, and the other will be placed in a shallow dish. In the meantime, sautee the carrot, onion and celery in olive oil and, once the vegetables have softened, pour in half of the beans that were put aside. Continue cooking the two mixtures for about 30 minutes, making sure that they don’t become too liquid. Blend half of the bean and potato mixture, leaving to your discretion the extra broth, however make sure that the mixtures remains creamy. Serve in soup plates: on the bottom layer put the blended beans and potato mixture and on top put the vegetables and the whole beans. Garnish with toasted bread and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.