Soya (beans) Gonna Make Soup?

When not in service as tofu, soybeans make for a subtle yet delicious soup.

Magic beans!

Magic beans!

And, yes, you’ll need your blender for this one…

Your blender is your friend

Your blender is your friend

Eons ago when I was visiting my mom and dad in Korea, my mom took me to a small hole in the wall (and I mean that in a good way) restaurant where the owner was the chef who specialized in cold soybean soup which she poured over noodles.  That was the only thing she served so you know it had to be good.

Mom & noodles

Mom & noodles in Seoul   (August 1998)

A good soup to have in the height of summer swelter, or whenever you get the yen for it.  I made it with noodles a few weeks ago and am happy to report that you can just make it yourself…without too much issue.

Soak your beans

Soak your beans

I think people forget that soybeans are beans as they are Franken-styled into (sometimes) dubious foodstuffs––from soy dogs, to soy cheese to Tofurkey(!)––so that we have become guinea pigs of sorts for the processed-foods industrial complex.  But these is beans, folks!

Just a pile of beans

Just a pile of beans

And beans with an illustrious history in Northeast Asian culture: In the seventh and eighth century, soy beans were claimed by the Buddhist elite as a staple for their hereditary nobility (Wolff 2001).  But this bean turned out to have a wide currency (ibid) for many people:  They  extracted its oils for cooking and lubricating(!) and used its left over pulp for fertilizer.

Of course what I’m proposing here, in comparison, is totally kitchen-cook friendly.

Just the sesame seeds, m'am

Just the sesame seeds, ma’am

No extracting or fertilizing here.  The biggest chunk of time needed here, 4 to 5 hours, is to let the beans soak in water so they double in size.  Think of all the things you can get done while you’re waiting!  You could:  clean the fridge, do your nails, catch up on all your shows, perm your hair, knit your cat a sweater!

Smooth move

Smooth move

And you could shorten prep time by skipping the straining step if you like a slightly thicker consistency.

Even smoother move

Even smoother move

You could chill your soup before serving or just have it at room temperature.


Serenity now

I like to add thin white Somen noodles…

Just add noodles!

Just add noodles!

Cold bean soup (콩국)

The ingredients

2 cups soybeans

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 tsp salt


The steps

1. Wash and soak soybeans in 4 cups of water for four to five hours.

2. Boil soybeans in 4 cups of water for five to six minutes with pot uncovered. Reserve some of the water for blending.  Rinse in cold water and remove as much of the skins as you can.  I probably left on more than I took off so you can decide how meticulous you want to get with that.

3. Grind rinsed beans and toasted sesame seeds in 4 cups of water.  Do this in two or three batches unless your blender is abnormally ginormous.

4. You can either serve as is or pass through a sieve for a finer texture. Salt to taste.

You could have it as is or add boiled Somen noodles, sesame oil, and scallions for heartier fare.  You might find this soup bland if you don’t season with enough salt, but be careful not to add too much.


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