Smile Politely

Soymilk: Simplified

October is vegetarian awareness month. Given this and the millions of acres of soybeans growing around us, there’s no time like the present to make some soymilk.

All you need is a big pot, a blender, a flour sack towel, and some soybeans. You can get soybeans in the bulk sections of Common Ground Food Coop, Strawberry Fields, and Jerry’s IGA at Round Barn.

There are two basic methods of making soymilk: the Japanese version where the combined ground bean and liquid mixture is heated and then strained. And the Chinese version where the liquid is strained from the ground beans and then heated.

Of these, the Chinese method is less likely to boil over. Diejun Chen, a talented cook and researcher with the University of Illinois Intsoy Program, developed the following recipe which does not require hours of soaking. You can make it in under an hour and add as much or as little sugar and salt as you want.

  • 4 ½ c water for first boiling
  • 4 ½ c water for second boiling
  • 1 1/4 c whole soybeans
  • 1/2 t. baking soda for first boil
  • 1/8 t. baking soda for second boil
  • 9 cups water for grinding with blanched beans
  • Dash of salt, if desired
  • Sugar as desired, or vanilla or other flavorings
  1. Clean whole soybeans by removing any dirt and damaged soybeans.
  2. Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to boil on a stove. Add 1/2 t. baking soda. Add soybeans directly into boiling water and boil for five minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse with hot water.
  4. Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to boil on a stove. Add 1/8 t. baking soda. Add drained, rinsed, soybeans. Stir, return to boil, and cook for five minutes.
  5. Drain and rinse with hot water again.
  6. Grind the boiled beans with 9 cups of hot water for 3 minutes using blender setting at high speed. (You may have to do this in 3 batches. For safety, pulse the mixture a couple of times before running it full on.
  7. Pour the ground bean mixture into the flour sack towel over a large bowl. When cool enough to touch, squeeze the remaining pulp to release additional soymilk. Simmer the strained soymilk for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt, sugar and flavors as desired. Refrigerate and use within one week.
  8. Straining takes the most time of any step in the process. If you want to make soymilk regularly, you may want to consider purchasing a commercial soymilk maker which will do this step for you. The SoyaJoy frequently gets good marks.


After making soymilk, you’ll have quite a bit of solid residue left. This residue, called okara, contains high-quality protein and fiber that can be used in several recipes, providing that it is cooked for about 45 minutes to neutralize the substances in it that can interfere with protein and mineral absorption.

Okara is a great way to enhance the protein levels in soups and stews. Or you can use it as a stand alone protein source. To make okara sausage, mince 2 cloves garlic, 1 T onion and small amounts of other veggies to taste and add them to the okara with ¼ t salt, 1 T cornstarch, and 1 t sugar. Roll into 2 ½-inch diameter sausages. Wrap the okara sausages in aluminum foil. Steam for 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Slice the sausage for sandwiches or sauté thicker slices for okara burgers. Family not completely ready for veggie burgers? Take a tip from Diejun and mix the okara 1:1 with ground chicken or turkey to move them further down the path.

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