Soya Beans: Versatile and Nutritious Legume

By Frank Marful-Sau, RD, LD, MPH | July 15, 2023

In numerous cultures all across the world, soya beans has long been a mainstay food. Including stir-fries, soups, salads, and snacks, the adaptable legume can be used in a wide range of recipes. This article discusses the different ways soya beans can be used in Ghanaian food and other recipes from across the world. Some of the most popular soya beans based foods include:


Soya beans can be made into soymilk, which is frequently used by vegetarians and others with lactose intolerance as a replacement for cow's milk. It may also be used as a foundation for numerous nutritious porridges, drinks and smoothies or consumed warm or cold. For vegan pancake lovers and people who wish to experiment various pancake recipes, soymilk can be used as an alternative to cow milk in making all types of pancakes. Soymilk is made by soaking and grinding soya beans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out any solids. It has a very mild flavor and can be used in place of dairy milk in a variety of recipes. A 1 cup serving of soymilk has a similar nutritional profile to cow’s milk, containing 130 calories and 8 grams of protein.

Tofu (Soya beans khebab)

Other individuals may utilize soya bean to make tofu (soya beans khebab), a popular meat substitute that vegans commonly eat and has now become a delicacy in Ghana. It may be added to stews and stir-fries or grilled, or fried. Tofu is made from heating soya milk with a curdling agent and straining the solid pieces from the liquid and then pressed into a block. The longer the process goes on, the firmer the tofu. It has little to no flavor so it can be dressed up in a variety of ways with marinades or sauces. A ½ cup serving of firm tofu has about 80 calories and 11 grams of protein.

Tom brown

Soya beans can also be roasted and milled together with other grains and legumes such as corn, wheat, millet, rice and groundnut to form a flour mix commonly known as “Tombrown/ Weanimix” in Ghana. This flour mix can be used to prepare creamy, nutrient and protein-dense porridges suitable for complementary feeding for babies above 6 months. This creamy porridge can also be served with milk and sugar or honey as a healthy breakfast option for children and adults.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce is another way that soya beans is frequently used in cuisine all around the world. Soy sauce is a mixture of fermented soya beans liquid, wheat, water and salt. Soy sauce is a fantastic condiment for dishes that call for heavy spice since it is full of umami taste from fermented soya beans and includes a significant quantity of salt. It is a common ingredient in fried rice and spaghetti dishes all around the world, as well as recipes for stir-fried meat, poultry, or vegetables. Simple salads may be made more flavorful and rich by adding a few drops of soy sauce to a vinaigrette and using it as a salad dressing. The flavor of meat and poultry is improved by marinating them in a mixture of soy sauce and other natural spices such ginger, garlic, cloves, and onions.

Soya bean oil

Soya bean can also be used to produce soya bean oil which can be used in various recipes.

Soya beans “koose” (“akara”)

Another intriguing way that soya beans can be used in Ghanaian cuisine is to make "koose" or "akara" out of it. “Koose”, is a fried bean cake frequently served with millet or corn-dough porridge as is a common street food in most regions of Ghana and Nigeria.

Soy flour

Soy flour is made from dried, ground soya beans. It is a high-protein, gluten-free alternative to wheat flour (pastries, bread and other recipes that require flour and baking)

Soy chunks or soy nuggets

Soy chunks or soy nuggets is a common way that soya beans can be used in meals and consumed in Ghana and around the world. Because of its fibrous texture and meaty taste, soy chunks are sometimes referred to as vegetarian meat. They are made from defatted soya beans flour, a byproduct of the soya bean extraction process. Soy chunks are widely used in vegetarian kitchens in varying recipes, some of which includes; preparing stews, gravies and snacks. As a snack, soy pieces are grilled or barbecued on skewers and served with pepper. Soy chunks can also be used in various healthy salad recipes and stir-fry recipes to replace meat or poultry.


Soya beans can be incorporate meals in the form of soups and paste. The most popular soy-based soup and paste are the “Miso soup” and “Miso paste”. Miso paste, which is normally prepared from fermented soya beans, is combined with a flavorful broth to create this classic morning meal; “Miso soup.” In addition to veggies and tofu, the soup may also contain additional proteins like fish or chicken. Miso soup is a year-round favorite because of its warming and soothing qualities and is renowned for its robust umami taste.


Tempeh is a fermented soya product made from whole soya beans that are cooked, fermented and pressed into a solid block, resulting in a food with a mild, nutty flavor. It is cut into rectangular patties and contains part of the whole beans. Since it is a necessary full protein food source that is equivalent to meat, milk, and eggs, it is an important part of vegetarian and vegan diets and a viable replacement in a varied animal-based diet. A 3 oz serving of tempeh has 160 calories, 15 grams of protein and a whopping 7 grams of fiber.


Edamame are immature green soya beans still in the pod, usually boiled or steamed and served with salt or a sauce. One cup of edamame has 190 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber.


In conclusion, soya beans can be used in various cuisines and is a great substitute for animal-proteins for vegetarians and vegans. Soya beans can be made into milk, soy sauce, tempeh, miso soup, soy oil, weanimix/ tom brown, koose, soya chunks and other protein rich and nutritious meals for both children and adults.


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