The Noble (and Humble) Soybean Burrito

Soybean burritos on corn tortillas ready to roll.

Soybean burritos on corn tortillas ready to roll.

Soybean burritos became a “national dish” in the early days of The Farm community in Tennessee, and continue to be a favorite for many. They are always on the “vegan experience” menu for the groups of midwifery students that I feed while they are here for workshops. These burritos can be one of the best introductions to soyfoods as a main dish, providing affordable complete protein that is easy to prepare and served in a familiar, comforting tortilla wrap. Burritos can be put together with whatever fixings are your favorites; the options are endless, including a hefty serving of some type of raw greens. My favorite combination is a line of soybeans on corn tortillas (for a wheat-free dish) with fresh salsa, tofu sour cream, nutritional yeast, sliced avocado (in place of vegan margarine), and either chopped lettuce, baby kale, or sprouts.

Originally we always rolled or pressed our own tortillas, a special touch that can still be done if you have the time and inclination. Now there are a vast variety of ready made tortillas available when time is an issue. Canned soybeans are also available for that time issue making these burritos a truly quick, easy, and nutritious meal.

Cooking Whole Soybeans for Optimum Digestibility

To be truly digestible, soybeans need to be cooked until they are soft enough to squish on the roof of your mouth with your tongue. In our first soybean experiments in the Farm community (early 1970’s) we found the only way to achieve this was with a pressure cooker at 15 pounds pressure for about 75 minutes. That was in the days of the old time pressure cookers with the pressure rockers, and it could only be done without soaking the beans, since if the beans were soaked the skins came loose and got caught in pressure valve and caused the cooker to go on overload and try to blow up. The new generation of pressure cookers is vastly improved, with more safety features for pressure release when necessary. With the new type of pressure cooker, soaked soybeans can be safely cooked at 15 pounds pressure for 15 to 18 minutes, then removed from the heat source and let to drop down to zero pressure on it’s own. Salt to taste. The pressure cooker instruction books says the soaked soybeans only need 9 to 12 minutes at pressure, but they were not soft enough for my liking with that timing. This is still a great savings in time, energy, and money. Anyone who consumes beans would do well to invest in this new type of pressure cooker.

Another energy saving method for cooking soybeans that has proved worthwhile is the crock-pot or slow cooker. It takes longer than the pressure cooker, but still works well, and the slow cooker is a low energy use appliance.

Soaked soybeans before cooking with uniform rehydration.

Soaked soybeans before cooking with uniform rehydration.

For the crock pot or slow cooker, soak the soybeans 10 to 12 hours or until when one is split open it has uniform color and tenderness throughout. Rinse and drain the soybeans several times. Bring water to boil in the slow cooker on high, and bring the soybeans to boil in water in a pot on the stovetop. Transfer the boiling soybeans and water to the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 to 6 hours, making sure the beans stay covered with boiling water until the soybeans are soft enough to squish with your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Salt to taste.

The Basic Soybean Burrito
These are just some of the possible fillings for the burrito; choose what you like:

  • cooked soft soybeans (pressure cooked, slow cooked or canned-see above)
  • tortilla of your choice (corn, wheat, teff, etc), warmed to soften
  • your favorite salsa or chopped fresh tomatoes and hot peppers
  • chopped lettuce, greens, or sprouts of your choice
  • chopped cilantro
  • sliced avocado
  • tofu sour cream or mayo (commercial or home made)
  • nutritional yeast
  • mustard

Don’t put so much on one tortilla that you can’t roll it up. Folding the ends in as you roll makes helps avoid drips while you are enjoying your burrito.

¡Buen Provecho!

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Written by Louise Hagler

Explore Wellness in 2021