Protein For Vegans: The Best Way To Add Soya To Soups And Stews?
If you’re a vegan, then you’re almost certainly already fully aware of the thorny issue of how to go about getting enough protein into your diet (almost as thorny as the old Vitamin B12 chestnut.) Few non-animal foods contain complete proteins, so the combination of amino acids - the building blocks of protein – in the foods you eat can be vital in ensuring you’re getting plenty of quality protein in the food that you eat.
One way for a vegan of accessing sufficient complete protein is to make sure that you eat some soy foods on a regular basis. These can include soy milk, soy yoghurt, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy flour or soy desserts, amongst others. How about if you like to make vegetable soups or stews and you’re wondering what soy protein source would go best into your improvised dish?
Personally I find that soy flour is a little bitter when it comes to using it as an addition to soups or stews. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a bad idea as a minor addition to a dish: it can add nutritional value and thicken up a thin watery soup a little. But I wouldn’t go adding a whole half cupful or anything: soy flour has a lot going for it in many ways, but flavour couldn’t really be asserted to be one of them! So be careful when it comes to quantity - don't go overboard. A light hand and a lot of testing and tasting should be involved!
This is really one of the classic additions to a vegan soup. Either unflavoured or marinaded or fried (or both of those last two), it adds a pleasantly solid, meaty texture and a stick to your ribs quality to a bean stew.
A little less familiar to many of us than tofu, this fermented soy bean product is excellent marinated and fried in thin slices. However I feel its full potential flavour is a little wasted if used in the watery environment of a stew. A pseudo-bacon sandwich is a much better usage!
Tinned Soya Beans
Of course, boiling up your own soya beans after soaking, rather than purchasing the tinned version, is always an option. But it can be a time-consuming and energy-hungry activity, so I think that many of us would prefer to go for the ready-prepared option. As far as being a taste sensation goes, in my opinion boiled soya beans… er… aren’t. But nutritionally they’re hard to beat, and quite acceptable to the palate… in small quantities!
What are edamame beans? Why, they’re soy beans of course: just fresh, green immature ones, designed to be cooked up like a regular vegetable. I find them to be delicately flavoured, crunchy and really delicious. The only drawback is the price! If you can find them frozen then you may get them at a bargain rate: but even the frozen ones I have found to be pretty pricey. Still, if you can locate them then they’re truly a yummy as well as healthful complement to any stew.
Too many choices? Too much information? Oh, all the options and varieties of soy there are out there! Still, if you’re looking for a protein rich addition to the stew you have cooking up on the stove, you can’t beat any of the above: try throwing some in there now!