Savory Sautéed Kale | Vegan Soul Food


“Soul Food” is a term used to describe African American cuisine from the Southern region of the United States. Though the food dates back to times of slavery, the literal term “Soul Food” originated in the ’60s during the Civil Rights Movement, where the term “soul” was used to describe “black culture.”*

Back to the 15th century, when Europeans invaded Africa and brought along cabbages and turnips and then jumping to the 17th century, when Africans were being shipped to the Americas, bringing and adopting crops such as okra, yams, watermelon, millet, and sorghum into their cuisine- meals prepared for the slave owners were quite different than the meals made for the slaves (all cooked by the slaves, of course). According to Frederick Douglass, a slave from the Lloyd Plantation in 1817,  “Lloyd’s plantation was like a pretentious quasi-nation, indulged and swollen in ‘the tide of high life, where pride and indolence lounged in magnificene and satiety.”‘ (Source: Aspects of Afro-American Cookery by Howard Page). Slave meals were made from cheaper, local ingredients – often items that were not thought to be prime enough to serve to the owners – “ham hocks, gizzards, pigs feet, and chitterlings or chitlins (hog intestines).”*

Though the Southern regional food ranges in flavor from Creole to Coastal, the one most well-known to me is the plantation food. This includes the infamous Collard Greens. Originally made with ham hocks and hydrogenated vegetable oil (a trans fat), it is simple enough to create a healthy alternative. Regular consumption of pure plantation Southern cooking without the rigorous outdoor work from the past  has been linked to “disproportionately high occurrences of obesity, hypertension, cardiac/circulatory problems and/or diabetes. It has also been a factor in African-Americans often having a shortened lifespan. More modern methods of cooking soul food include using more healthful alternatives for frying (liquid vegetable oil or canola oil) and cooking/stewing using smoked turkey instead of pork.**” Or in this case, vegan alternatives!

Time: 20 minutes
Chopping and mixing: 5 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 or 2 vine ripened tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 2.5 cups of frozen kale (or 3 lbs of fresh kale– rough estimate and cook time will vary), defrosted


In a large pan, heat to medium and add the tbsp of olive oil. Once hot, fry the shallots and garlic cloves until slightly garlic is slightly browned.

Shallot vs. Onion

Then, add the chili flakes and chopped tomatoes. Stir until the tomatoes start to break down (about 1-2 minutes).

Stir in the veggie broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with your stirring utensil to make sure nothing had stuck to the pan.

Add the defrosted kale and mix with everything else in the pan.

Add salt & pepper and let cook for 10-12 minutes.


Where should I buy these ingredients?

Try to buy these ingredients from the farmer’s market. It’s summertime and all these thing can be bought fresh from local farms (especially if you are on the southeast coast of the US).

How many does it serve?

This recipe serves about 4 people

What does this pair well with?

This dish pairs well with mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon, and ancient grains boiled in veggie broth and black pepper. All soulful comfort foods.



How long can it last?

This dish lasts about a week in the fridge and about a month or two in the freezer.





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