I Know You Got Soul!

Produced by Brett Levine

Food Styling by Lily Plauché

Photography by Beth Dreiling Hontzas


It is hard to think of southern food without thinking of soul food, but sometimes we are not sure of how to get some of that soul onto our plates! But, finding a soulful way to enjoy a meal is easier than hearing James Brown say, “For goodness sakes, have a look at those cakes!”


Chicken and Waffles

Start with chicken and waffles. What could be better than subtle, savory-yet-sweet fried chicken served over waffles smothered in maple syrup? The yogurt base adds an unexpected tanginess to this dish as the natural acidity of the yogurt is a contrast to the traditional creaminess of buttermilk.

Chicken and Waffles recipe

Serves 4–6



1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into eight pieces

2 cups plain yogurt

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying



2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 large eggs, separated

1 ½ cups milk

1 cup butter, melted

Maple syrup


To make the chicken, cut chicken breasts crosswise into two or three pieces each. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl or zip-top plastic bag; add yogurt and vinegar, stirring well. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours (with a maximum of 24 hours). When ready to fry, pour oil to a depth of 3 inches in a large Dutch oven; heat to 325 degrees. Stir together flour, pepper, salt, and cayenne in a shallow bowl. Shake excess yogurt mixture from chicken, reserving mixture. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, and shake off excess. Dip in reserved yogurt mixture to coat, then dredge again in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Fry chicken, in batches, turning often, until skin is golden brown and juices run clear, 10–15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Keep chicken warm in a 200-degree oven on a wire rack in a jelly roll pan while you prepare the waffles.

To make the waffles, preheat a waffle iron. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, and melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry until just combined. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; fold egg whites into batter. Bake waffles in waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve chicken on top of waffles with maple syrup.


Banana Pudding

Who are we kidding? You can’t wait until the end for this. No truly southern meal would be complete without some ’nana puddin’.  Banana pudding, the subject of competitions and pride, is one of the most traditional desserts ever served in a restaurant below the Mason-Dixon line whether it has fine linens, is a juke joint, or is simply your back porch. Take the time to make your own custard and you will have them coming back for more.

Banana Pudding recipe

Serves 12


5 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

2 ¼ cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups sweetened whipped cream

½ 12-ounce package vanilla wafers

6 bananas, sliced


Combine egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl, whisking well. Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk hot milk into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan; add cream cheese and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for four minutes or until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla, butter, and condensed milk until smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl and place plastic wrap over top to prevent a film from forming. Refrigerate four hours or until cool.

Layer half of the cookies onto the bottom of a three-quart baking dish. Top with banana slices. Pour pudding over banana slices. Top with remaining half of cookies. Spread whipped cream on the top. Cover and chill at least four hours.


Turnip Greens

Of course, you need something green to balance out that custard, and there isn’t a vegetable more southern than turnip greens. They are smaller and tenderer than their cousin, the collard, and they may also be less familiar in the kitchen. Here they are simmered in bacon, chicken stock, onions, and pepper. In 20–30 minutes, you will have a wonderful, soulful southern delicacy right on the plate.

Turnip Greens recipe

Serves 4–6


6 slices bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound fresh turnip greens, torn into two-inch pieces

3 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


Cook bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Sauté onion in bacon drippings over medium-high heat for five minutes or until tender. Add turnip greens, stirring until they begin to wilt. Add chicken broth, salt, and peppers. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20–30 minutes until tender. Stir in vinegar.

One Response to “I Know You Got Soul!”

  1. Tyler says:

    The day I learned how to properly cook turnip greens was a turning point in my life.

Leave a Reply