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Life Reports, Broccoli Soup

When you’re young, you probably don’t think too much about life. I’m not talking about life, I’m talking about LIFE. With the context of where you came from, where you’ve been, and what is left to explore with the little time you’ve got left. I’m often reflective (especially when I’m writing), but I’ve hardly reached the age where I can teach anyone about life, and how you should be living it. Which is why, I found this article about life reports in The New York Times especially fascinating.

These aren’t reports about books people have read, but the reflections that a handful of elderly people shared with a newspaper journalist. Some of the insights these readers sent him were things we all know, but have trouble implementing in our own lives. Such as taking risks. Many of us know that we should take more risks, but few of us have the willpower to take them. Or, learning that you can’t change other people. No matter how hard you try (though, I believe, you can change yourself…but that’s a different story).

The meat of this article were the insights that we don’t often think about. For example, that you shouldn’t always be honest with yourself, but rather ‘strategically self-deceptive.’ Bottom line: keeping your head high and letting disappointments, hurt and worry roll off your shoulders, rather than reflecting too much on ‘Why me?’ I found it particularly telling that the happiest people who responded to the call for submissions were also those who divided their life into ‘phases,’ focusing on pivotal moments in life when they were able to make decisions that affected the course of their lives.

But the line that stayed with me — perhaps intentionally so — was towards the very end of the article, when one retiree wrote: “Don’t stay with people who, over time, grow apart from you. Move on. This means do what you think will make you feel okay — even if that makes others feel temporarily not okay.”

I’ve been sitting on that one. Pondering. I don’t know about you, but I’m a guilt-oriented person. I feel guilty about missing birthday parties, telling little white lies to avoid doing something I really don’t want to do, forgetting people’s birthdays, running stop signs. You name it — I’d probably feel guilty about it. But am I missing something really, really, HUGE and important about LIFE? Does being happy in life ultimately whittle down to doing what makes you feel ok, regardless of other factors and people?

I’m implementing one takeaway from this article right now. Instead of thinking too much, sometimes it’s just better to go into your kitchen, take out a pot and a cutting board, and make soup. Letting go of all of the heavy stuff and focusing on something as simple as chopping broccoli, and sautéing leeks in butter is a good reminder that whatever you do, you should do it because it feels ok (unless you’re about to take a big risk, in which case, resolve that you might not be ok…but it’s only temporary).

P.S. Apparently it’s green week over in the Turntable Kitchen.

Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta
adapted from Donna Hay
*serves 4

1 tablespoon of butter
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli (florets + stems), roughly chopped
4 cups of vegetable stock
approximately 1 cup (packed) of spinach
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup of ricotta

1. Add the butter to a medium soup pot and heat it over medium-high heat, until it melts. Add the leek and garlic, and cook for about five minutes (until the leek has softened). Stir occasionally to keep the leek from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
2. Next, toss in the chopped broccoli and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat for another 10 or so minutes (until the broccoli is fork-tender). Toss in the spinach, cooking for another few minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and use a hand blender to whiz the soup into a puree.
4. Pour in the cream and stir until it is well-incorporated. Next, add in the lemon juice and zest, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
5. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a hearty spoonful of ricotta.

Musical Pairings: The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow + Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Sarah Kenney

    Beautiful photo of that soup. I really love that bowl with the side handles!

  • I think it might be fun to sit down and come up with the chapter titles for one’s life so far. Especially around this time of year and with a bowl of this soup to keep you company. Thanks for the good read!

  • Wouldn’t it? I love a good read + soup. It’s the perfect way to spend a winter afternoon.

  • Thank you, Sarah! I picked it up at Crate & Barrel sometime last year…wonder if they still have them. They really fancy up a bowl of soup 🙂

  • Judyedddy

    What an interesting article! I also found this really interesting site that lets you reflect on your own life and share what you’ve learned so far so that younger people can benefit from your experience — really neat!

  • Ohh. Thanks for sharing!

  • Such a lovely soup and thought-provoking post. I believe we are constantly battling between living in our strengths vs. our weaknesses. When we do things out of guilt we feel weak and unhappy. I try to live in my strengths, because I guess taking care of myself is better for everyone around me. It’s certainly not always easy though. To keep things in perspective and I remember that most of the time people are more worried about themselves than what I do.

  • Jo foodepix

    This looks so delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

  • Adrianna From A Cozy Kitchen

    Oh I have to read that article. This soup looks delicious. The amount of cream looks perfect–not too heavy.

  • Adrianna, you’re right….I like to call it ‘cream-accentuated’ vs. ‘cream-based’ 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing that article, Kasey. I love reading stuff like this! The “temporarily not ok” line is definitely a stand-out. I adore (not-too-creamy) broccoli soup and the lemon ricotta on top sounds like heaven!

  • Megan Gordon

    Yes, I heard about this article! Must check it out — thank you for the reminder (my mom has a crush on that journalist). Soup looks fantastic…I’m just about butternut squash/sweet potatoe-d out, so this will be happening sooooon. Thanks, Kasey!

  • So much to ponder just from reading your post, and I haven’t even gotten to the New York Times piece yet! Your broccoli soup looks really wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever tried homemade, real broccoli soup, just the super cheesy stuff served at chain restaurants (yuck). I bet the difference is night and day!

  • Much agreed! Sometimes, the kitchen, my cutting board, and savory soup is all I need to ease my New York life. Your soup looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m a sucker for anything with broccoli, lemon OR ricotta. All three? Sign me up! This looks absolutely delicious.
    -Rachel @

  • This looks great Kasey! Yum! Love broccoli soup and I’ve never attempted to make it at home. Now I will 🙂

  • Thanks, Nicole!

  • Thank you, Rachel!

  • Thanks, Jay! I completely agree 🙂

  • Ohhh, homemade broccoli soup is a whole different experience…light and airy, and tasting of real broccoli! I hope you try it, Kate! And, the article is def. worth a read.

  • That’s too funny. I still have more squash recipes up my sleeve, but a much-needed break was necessary! xo

  • I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I love that kind of stuff, too…if you read something interesting/thought-provoking, send it my way!

  • Pingback: 15 Best Creamy Soups for Gold Weather()

  • Lauren

    Amazing soup! The only thing I would do differently next time is double the recipe.

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