James and Ella shared a passion for food that lasted their entire life together. Therefore, when Ella died it seemed fitting that he cook for her and their friends one last time.
When all the arrangements had been made and the bureaucracy dealt with, he closed himself away in their kitchen and made soup. It was a good soup; warm, rich and satisfying. Ella would have approved. Afterwards, when friends talked or thought about Ella, her life and their loss, they would remember the soup.
It was not something that would easily be created again. James could not remember most of what had gone into it. When questioned, he could only remember four ingredients, although he was sure there were many more. He would have based the soup on a hearty stock, probably chicken. He and Ella had always enjoyed how food could be connected in this way, with the core flavours of one meal condensed into a rich, tasty base for another.
Then there were tomatoes; plump, deep red and sun-warmed. Ella had presented him with a perfect tomato every Valentine’s Day. “It’s a love apple,” she would say. “It symbolises the rosy, sweet core of our love.” She never missed a year.
He also knew that he had added garlic for piquancy, and smoked paprika for spiciness. Almost everything they cooked together contained these two ingredients.
Eventually when people asked, he would just say that the soup had been made of memories of Ella.