Thanksgiving is a special day because most of us offer up a collective “thanks” for all that we have. The iconic artwork for Thanksgiving is Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” depicting the perfect family with Grandma and Grandpa serving up a perfectly cooked turkey.  Even those who haven’t seen the original painting may be familiar with contemporary re-enactments: from the Simpsons to Mickey and Minnie and even the Modern Family family. No matter the family or the setting, everything looks perfect, probably tastes perfect and the image evokes joy, love, warmth, and family-unity.  Perfection.

It is a blessing to be able to feed our loved ones a special meal with all the traditional favorites.  But the over-abundance of the whole holiday seems to be a growing trend.  Is that what we view as the perfect Thanksgiving? What happens when we carry this perfection-gone-abundant from the dining table into the rest of our lives.  When we want without regard to sensibility and we end up wanting more and more … stuff.

Black Friday sales are now encroaching on, and indeed taking over,  this day we traditionally held to merely be well-fed and thankful.  As if a full belly isn’t enough anymore, we feel compelled now to head to the mall to outwit and out-maneuver our neighbors in order to get the latest large screen TV…to have a full shopping cart too, even if we can’t afford it.

Freedom from Want for some might suggest possessing all that our heart desires and having everything.  But is that really what we … want?  It’s a slippery slope that suggests if we focus only on what we want we might end up missing out on what we truly need.  It strikes me as a troubling place to be when our focus is on accumulating stuff that merely ends up clogging up our lives and draining our bank accounts.

Freedom from Want might actually challenge us to keep “want” in check and remember that need is a very different matter altogether.  This Thanksgiving think about what you really need in your life: the things that are necessary, the people you love with your whole heart, the moments when you feel humbled and grateful.   It’s then you will be free … and you may even realize that everything you want is right in front of you.

Here’s one of my favorite soups to make at Thanksgiving.  It’s beautiful rich color makes me think of sweet sunshine – which is free and for which I’m extremely thankful!

Autumn Bisque

3 T olive oil

2 T butter

4 cups chopped onion

2 T minced garlic

2 cups chopped carrot

1 cup chopped celery

8 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup chopped leeks

2 cans pumpkin puree (or 4 cups fresh puree)

1- 13.5 can coconut milk

1 1/2 cups half n half

1/2  t cayenne pepper

1 1/2 t tumeric

1 T lemon juice, fresh

1 T thyme

salt, pepper to taste

In large stockpot, add 1/2 of the butter and oil with the onions, carrots, celery, leeks and garlic.  Saute until softened.  Add enough broth to cover then simmer for 2 minutes.  Using an immersion/stick blender (or actual blender – but be careful with hot liquid), blend until smooth.

Add remaining broth, pumpkin, coconut milk, cayenne, tumeric and thyme and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in half and half then add lemon juice.  Adjust salt and pepper if necessary.

Garnish with toasted pepitas and plain greek yogurt (or sour cream).  You can get these at a Mexican market (probably at Jewel too in the Mexican aisle.)  Heat a deep sauce pan then toss in pepitas, shaking pan like you would for popcorn.  They will start to pop (or jump) – remove from heat when the popping slows.   Garnish soup bowls with a rounded teaspoon of greek yogurt then sprinkle toasted pepitas on top.

Serves 10


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