Spice Up Meals with Chili and Hummus Using Frozen Soybeans

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chili con carne served with lettuce.

It recently dawned on me when my 12-year-old son graduated from elementary school in March that my years of child-rearing are more than half over. As I looked back on the years, I realized that one thing that has remained constant is my commitment to providing my son with healthy, well-balanced meals. Even when it felt tedious and time-consuming, I made a conscious effort to cook for him.

As my son no longer needs as much care as he used to, I want to focus more on cooking for myself. I’m 48, in the menopausal generation, and I find myself easily feeling tired and noticing some coarseness to my skin. This situation has prompted me to try cooking soybeans because they contain compounds that function similarly to female hormones, so it makes for a great addition to the diets of menopausal women, or so I’m told.

I frequently use boiled soybeans that come in a can or pouch, but I don’t believe I’ve ever cooked dried soybeans from scratch. Soon, I was in the supermarket buying a bag of dried soybeans, following the instructions on the bag to soak the beans in water, and simmering them for an hour. As they simmered, my kitchen filled with the aroma of the beans. At that moment, I felt like a skilled chef and said to myself: “I’m cooking soybeans from scratch. Aren’t I great!”

The amount of boiled soybeans made from a bag of dried soybeans is too large to consume all at once. Culinary researcher Miyuki Shimamoto showed me some tips on freezing the beans and how to use them in quick recipes.

Shimamoto suggested keeping the beans in the water used for cooking them and freezing portions in containers. Preserving the beans with the cooking liquid prevents them from drying or deteriorating during freezing, allowing them to be stored in the freezer for up to three months, Shimamoto said. She recommended freezing them in small portions that are convenient for cooking, such as 100 grams of boiled soybeans each.

Chickpeas and other beans can also be preserved using the same method, Shimamoto said.

When they will be used for cooking, she advised defrosting the beans slowly in the refrigerator or heating them in the microwave with the lid of their container slightly ajar.

I wanted to use these soybeans as an ingredient in some non-Japanese dishes I enjoy. Shimamoto taught me a chili con carne recipe that requires only combining the ingredients and heating them in the microwave. The chili can be divided into containers and stored in the refrigerator for use as a filling for omelets or as a kind of sauce for pasta.

Shimamoto also shared a soybean hummus recipe that has a smoother texture than traditional hummus made from chickpeas. Her dish has a rich taste that can pair well with wine. As my son and husband are not as fond of such dishes, I get to enjoy them on my own. These dishes are a treat for me when having an evening drink at home.

Chili con carne

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 100 grams boiled soybeans (defrosted and drained)
  • 100 grams mixed ground beef and pork
  • ¼ onion, finely chopped
  • 200 grams canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp consomme powder
  • ½ tsp grated garlic
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • Chopped parsley, if desired
  • Lettuce, if desired

  • Directions:

    1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine soybeans, ground meat, onion, tomatoes, consomme powder, garlic and chili powder and mix well. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

    2. In the microwave, heat the mixture for 6 minutes (at 600 W).

    3. Mix well and serve in bowls. If desired, sprinkle chopped parsley to taste and serve with lettuce torn into easy-to-eat pieces.

    Soybean hummus

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Soybean hummus served with bread


    • 200 grams boiled soybeans (defrosted and drained)
    • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
    • 1½ tbsp white sesame paste
    • 2½ tbsp olive oil
    • ½ tbsp lemon juice
    • ⅓ tsp salt
    • ⅓ tsp grated garlic
    • Paprika, if desired
    • Cumin powder, if desired

    • Directions:

      1. In a food processor, place boiled soybeans, yogurt, white sesame paste, 1½ tbsp olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic, and blend until smooth.

      2. Serve with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil drizzled over it. If desired, sprinkle paprika and cumin powder to taste.