How Cooking Can Nourish the Soul

It happened again the other day. As I stood in the kitchen, chopping, stirring, and smelling, I felt a weight release within me. Something started to grow, slowly at first, and then quickly—a peace, or perhaps a calm. A welling from the deepest part of me that cannot always be explained but is ever, always present guided me with a knowing and a being all its own. Cooking, as it seems, nourishes the soul.

Under the lights of the kitchen stove, I stirred onions, butter, and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. The good things in life cannot be rushed; I imagine my grandmother saying, her whisper to me, a reminder of a time outside of time. Author Glennon Doyle calls this time God’s time or Kairos time—a metaphysical time outside the bounds of a regular clock, one of “those magical moments in which time stands still.”

Whatever we tend to call it, wherever we tend to experience it, there exists a place where the things of God touch the things of humanity. There exists a place of soul connection, nourishment, and warmth.

For many of us, the act of cooking really can nourish the soul.

Cooking Nourishes, Even if it Takes Time

Of course, it has not always been this way for me. Although I knew the basics of cooking from young age, I only really started cooking once I met my husband. Suddenly, I not only wanted to cook, but I wanted to learn how to cook; I wanted to expand my repertoire beyond the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle (an aisle I still find absurdly delightful now, even if I’m prone to try my hand at the occasional pot of caramelized onions in the form of homemade French onion soup).

For a short while, I feared anything with more than five ingredients. But I quickly found a home in like-minded cookbooks, perhaps written by similarly minded chefs. In the early years of raising children, cooking did not so much fill my soul as much as it merely filled my belly and the bellies of those under my care. But as my children have gotten older and, subsequently, more independent, cooking has become a place of peace and calm once again.

Cooking Nourishes Those Around Us

Cooking has become more than just a physical sustenance; it is a real means of feeding the soul. Body, mind, and soul: The act of cooking is said to boost creativity and bring joy—not only for the individual but also for those who partake in the meal. For those who are united together in body and soul upon eating the food. As chef Darryl Taylor says, “My belief in the magic of shared meals is a reminder that, beyond flavors and aromas, it’s the connections formed around the table that truly nourish the soul.”

And nourishing the soul through food is a tale old as time.

Cooking Nourishes, Then and Now

Ancient scripture weaves a tale of a God who yearns to feed, who makes a promise to Adam (and therefore, to humanity) to “give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (1:29). These seed-bearing plants become the food that fills the grumbling stomachs of the Israelites when God makes another promise of meat at twilight and bread in the early hours of dawn. Through this food that nourishes body and soul, the people will know the God who provides and feeds (Exodus 16:12).

It’s not all that different in the New Testament when Christ makes a regular habit of gathering for a meal with friends and strangers alike. Just as He calls Himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35), when He gathers beside the shore, teaching the people, the crowd begins to grow hungry. How will they feed everyone? What will they feed everyone?

Although the story appears in all four gospel accounts, John is the only writer who names a young boy as the one who just happened to have five small barley loaves and two tiny fish with him. When Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, notices this boy and his food, he doubts this noticing will amount to anything but informs Jesus, nonetheless. And to this, Jesus feeds 5,000 men, women, and children, filling another “twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (John 6:13).

I don’t doubt bellies and souls were filled that day.

Might it be the same for you: wherever you find your kitchen, whoever you find yourself feeding, might belly and soul be nourished in turn.

Share this post:

Sign up for Family Life updates!

Get weekly updates from Family Christian on all things Family Life!

Additional Family Life Articles