The fall season is the perfect time to experiment with recipes, especially comfort dishes from the South. If you’re a book junkie, you have probably come across hundreds of books with a focus on “authentic southern cooking.” We found a keeper by author Cassandra Harrell that we can’t seem to put down. With “Soul Food Advisor,” Harrell teases home cooks and foodies with 150 recipes inspired by her childhood food memories. The former award-winning caterer holds nothing back as she celebrates soul food with iconic dishes and irresistible flavors.
The subtitle of the book is “Recipes and Tips for Authentic Southern Cooking,” and Harrell certainly delivers on this. She writes that her ancestors hail from Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri who passed down original recipes that were reflective of the foods in those regions. Like most, Harrell grew up listening to the food stories from her mother and watching Big Mama fry hot-water corn bread which inspired her culinary dreams.
A native of Tennessee, Harrell started her catering business in 1994 in Milwaukee, Wis. with her husband Earl who is a renowned barbecue chef. Together they owned Earl’s Southern Bar-B-Que along with Earl’s Southern Catering that specialized in southern cuisine. They cooked and catered for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks as well as sporting events and national trade shows.
With years and years of experience behind her, Harrell writes “Soul Food Advisor” to share more than just recipes. It also offers culinary history with insight into the ongoing debate of what is soul food. You’ll have to get a copy to read what she says is the difference between soul food and southern food because we can’t give the entire book away.
Now to the good stuff. This book will be a kitchen staple as it has so many great recipes that you’ll want to try and cook often. In addition, you’ll be able to hone in on your barbecue skills with several recipes by Harrell’s husband. As you flip through the pages, your mouth is sure to water as your mind spins trying to figure out what to try first. From soups and one-pot meals to sauces, vegetables, stews, meats, breads, and desserts, you’ll find everything you need in this one book. Harrell connects each recipe with a story, thereby making it personal. It is hard to list them all, so we’ll start with our top 10 that we plan to try first:
- Mamie’s Turkey Pot Pie (page 12)
- Oven-Fried Pork Chops (page 37)
- Chicken and Rice Soup (page 45)
- Creamy Tomato Soup (page 55)
- Texas-Style Barbecue Sauce (page 97)
- Healthy and Light Coleslaw (page 120)
- Sweet Potato Biscuits (page 142)
- Lemon Drop Cookies (page 185)
- Classic Cheesecake (page 189)
- Watermelon Cranberry Punch (page 213)
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