Soy milk (also called soya milk, soymilk, soybean milk, or soy juice) and sometimes referred to as soy drink/beverage is a beverage made from soybeans. A stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein, it is produced by soaking dry soybeans and grinding them with water. Soy milk contains about the same proportion of protein as cow's milk: around 3.5%; also 2% fat, 2.9% carbohydrate, and 0.5% ash. Soy milk can be made at home with traditional kitchen tools or with a soy milk machine.
Soy milk has about the same amount of protein (though not the same amino acid profile) as cow's milk. Natural soy milk contains little digestible calcium as it is bound to the bean's pulp, which is insoluble in humans. To counter this, many manufacturers enrich their products with calcium carbonate available to human digestion. Unlike cow's milk, it has little saturated fat and no cholesterol. Soy products contain sucrose as the basic disaccharide, which breaks down into glucose and fructose. Since soy doesn't contain galactose, a product of lactose breakdown, soy-based infant formulas can safely replace breast milk in children with galactosemia.
Soy milk can be made from whole soybeans or full-fat soy flour. The dry beans are soaked in water overnight or for a minimum of 3 hours or more depending on the temperature of the water. The rehydrated beans then undergo wet grinding with enough added water to give the desired solids content to the final product. The ratio of water to beans on a weight basis should be about 10:1. The resulting slurry or purée is brought to a boil in order to improve its nutritional value by heat inactivating soybean trypsin inhibitor, improve its flavor and to sterilize the product. Heating at or near the boiling point is continued for a period of time, 15–20 minutes, followed by the removal of an insoluble residue (soy pulp fiber or okara) by filtration.
Soy milk is found in many vegan and vegetarian food products and can be used as a replacement for cow's milk in many recipes.
"Sweet" and "salty" soy milk are both traditional Chinese breakfast foods, served either hot or cold, usually accompanied by breads like mantou (steamed rolls), youtiao (deep-fried dough), and shaobing (sesame flatbread). The soy milk is typically sweetened by adding cane sugar or, sometimes, simple syrup.
"Salty" soy milk is made with a combination of chopped pickled mustard greens, dried shrimp and, for curdling, vinegar, garnished with youtiao croutons, chopped scallion (spring onions), cilantro (coriander), meat floss (肉鬆; ròu sōng), or shallot as well as sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil or salt to taste.
Soy milk is used in many kinds of Japanese cuisine, such as in making yuba as well as sometimes a base soup for nabemono. In Korean cuisine, soy milk is used as a soup for making kongguksu, cold noodle soup eaten mostly in summer. Tofu is produced from soy milk by further steps of curdling and then draining.
Soy milk is also used in making soy yogurt, soy cream, soy kefir and soy based cheese analogues.