Soul food is a delicious cuisine with history that dates back to the late 18th century. It has roots in the Black church and centers around community. We sat down with Chef Morghan Medlock, a private chef, food blogger, and content creator with over 20,000 followers on TikTok, to learn all about soul food. “I got into cooking from always hanging around the kitchen as a kid whenever my dad or grandmother cooked,” she said. A former basketball player, Medlock said she “naturally found my way back into the kitchen after hanging up my sneakers…It was the only pastime of mine that gave me the same adrenaline rush.” 

What is soul food and where did it come from?

Soul food is a term first coined in 1964 and references all of the foods and techniques connected to the Black cuisine of the United States. The phrase is also connected to soul music, a genre that originated in the Black community, as well. While it wasn’t officially given a name until the mid-1900s, soul food has existed in the Black community long before the 1960s. The cuisine originated in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia as a result of the Transatlantic slave trade and practices of slavery. Enslaved people were given rations, and with these, tried to preserve culinary traditions through adaptations using the ingredients available to them. As with any cuisine, the region has a great influence on the types of meals made — for example, soul food takes on more of a Creole influence in Louisiana. “Soul food is any hearty dish that a person puts their love into,” Medlock said. “Soul food is something that brings back nostalgia to its consumer after the first bite.”

What are soul food dishes?

While there are lots of dishes that are considered soul food staples, here are a few of Medlock’s favorites. 

Macaroni & Cheese

Medlock’s macaroni and cheese recipe, which she refers to as “crack n cheese,” brings together endless amounts of cheese, butter, and noodles.

Fried Chicken

Medlock makes her fried chicken extra crispy and crunchy by coating it in cornstarch before frying. If you need a condiment for everything, she also has a recipe for buttermilk ranch that would go perfectly with some fried chicken. 


Medlock’s blog has a recipe for Smoked Greens, which is a mixture of collards and mustard greens that looks absolutely delicious.


Everyone loves a buttery piece of cornbread and Medlock shouted this out as another staple of soul food cooking. Her TikTok has a few different variations of the bread; from jalapeño cheddar to the more traditional buttermilk cornbread. “It’s one of those dishes where you have to be careful after the first piece because you’re going to want to eat the entire pan full,” she said. 

Why you need to try soul food (if you haven’t already)

Every chef is passionate about the food they cook — it’s why they choose certain types of food over others. “It’s a skill that was passed down through generations of my family and my culture,” she said. “My love language is love itself, so I enjoy passing love through the souls of people through their stomachs.”

“For someone that’s maybe never had soul food, I would tell them to be ready to feel like their grandmother made them the best home cooked meal they’ve ever tasted,” Medlock said. “Try anything smothered, and some good old fashioned mac and cheese.”

It’s clear that soul food is delicious, but it’s also representative of something bigger. Our favorite foods — from mac and cheese to cornbread — take their roots in West African cuisine, and were brought to us through the brutality of the transatlantic slave trade. As we begin Black History month, it’s more important than ever to recognize these connections, and to shift the narrative to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of the Black community through each and every bite.