Soul Food Recipes for MLK’s Birthday 2016

Every year on the third Monday in January people in the USA celebrate National Martin Luther King’s Day. One of the most important social rights activists in the history of the humanity was born on January 15, 1929. At the age of 35 Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded with the Nobel Peace prize. Who knows how many other life-changing improvements he would have introduced if he had not been assassinated at the age of 39 while giving a speech from his hotel room balcony on April, 4, 1968.

Fifteen years later, in 1983, his birthday was made an official state holiday by an act of Congress. To celebrate the occasion, you may prove you are a useful member of your community by doing something really helpful. And, of course, you can cook a few Southern recipes and honor the soul food cooking traditions, which Martin Luther King Jr. loved so much. Many of the soul foods originated from West African cuisine and were adopted by US cooks and families during the period of slavery. Remembering the tragic history of slave trade and the changes for the better stimulated by the champion of human rights by cooking some of Southern recipes is quite a nice way to celebrate Martin Luther King’s day!

Butter Bean Soup

Southerners know that butter beans and lima beans are one and the same thing. Being a Southerner, King sure knew it as well. This nourishing soup is a vivid example of soul food favored in the South. Cook it to honor Martin Luther King’s achievements and to just enjoy a nice winter meal!


  • Dried butter beans - 1 lb (soak them overnight)
  • Turkey ham or lean ham – 1 cup, diced
  • Celery – 2 stalks, chopped
  • Onion – 1 large, chopped
  • Fresh thyme – 1 ½ tbsp. (if you are using dried thyme, take 2 tsp)
  • Low-sodium chicken broth – 6 cups
  • Water – 4 cups
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley or tomatoes for serving

How to Cook

Put all the ingredients into a large pot, put over high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours for the beans to soften up. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley or tomatoes. To give it a touch of true South, sprinkle the soup with chopped raw green onions.

This butter bean soup recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker. Just put all ingredients in the slow cooker and turn it to LOW for about 4 hours or more – forgetting about the dish you are cooking is the luxury of using this wonderful device!

Cabbage and ham bone soup

For this recipe you will need a meaty ham bone. If your local grocery store doesn’t sell such foods, go to the butcher’s, to a specialty ham store or substitute it with ham hocks. The recipe below will serve 4 really hungry or 8 moderately hungry eaters.


  • Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
  • Yellow onion – 1 large, chopped
  • Celery – 1 stalk, sliced thinly
  • Chicken broth – 1 quart
  • 1 ham bone, cooked
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium turnips
  • Green cabbage - 1/2 large head
  • Apple vinegar - 2 tbsp
  • Cayenne pepper – 1/4 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How to Cook

Pour oil into a large pot. Sauté onion and celery until soft. Pour chicken broth, add ham bone and bay leaf, reduce heat to low and slowly bring to boil. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, peel and chop the carrots and turnips, core and large chop the cabbage. Put the vegetables into the pot; add apple vinegar, salt and spices. Simmer until the vegetables begin to soften (about 20 minutes). Remove ham bone, set aside to cool. Cut ham from the bone, ditch the bone and put the meat back into the pot. Cook for some more time to just let the ham heat up or to bring the veggies to a desired texture. Pick out the bay leaf and serve.

This cabbage and ham bone soup is full of flavors and aromas. It is a perfect meal for a winter dinner that will keep you warm though the whole night.

Martin Luther King shot


  • Amaretto - 0.5 oz
  • Lime juice 1 splash
  • Rum - 0.5 oz
  • Jagermeister - 0.5 oz

How to Cook

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake well. Serve in a 2-oz shot glass.

I Have a Dream Drink


  • 1 egg
  • Orange juice - 5 cl
  • Grenadine - 1 cl

How to Cook

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake well. Serve in a highball glass with ice. For a stronger variation, add a splash of rum.

American Dream


  • PAMA Pomegranate liqueur - 1 oz
  • Black cherry run - 1 oz
  • POM Wonderful pomegranate cherry juice - 1 1/2 oz
  • Fresh sour - 1/2 oz
  • White fondant
  • Star-shaped cutter
  • Blueberries

How to Cook

Cut stars out of the fondant. Wet one side of each star and press them inside of cocktail glasses. Set aside for 5 minutes for the stars to stick well. Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake well. Strain into glasses. Decorate with blueberries on a pick.

Martin Luther King’s day is one of the only three federal holidays of the US that commemorate an outstanding individual. Parades, speeches, gatherings are held as a tribute to the brave civil rights leader. Cooking some Martin Luther King’s Day recipes is another good way of celebrating his legacy. Have a family-and-friends reunion; invite everyone you want to share your kindness with and enjoy your dinner in the spirits of brotherhood and equality.

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