Ella’s Soup

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.

7 thoughts on “Ella’s Soup”

    1. Thanks Neil :-) I was quite nervous about veering into being trite or sentimental, so I’m very glad it worked for you.

  1. I really like this. I like how it invokes sadness without ever mentioning anything explicitly (no tears, no despair and no direct descriptions of what James is feeling). I think the short, sweet, factual sentences work to make this nostalgic romance feel real world.

    Love the metaphors apparent with all the soup ingredients especially the tomato and chicken stock comments.
    ‘She never missed a year’ – is a great sentence loaded with unpretentious pathos.

    Not totally sure about the last paragraph, it is the most smalshy romantic bit – but I think it works.

    1. I’m glad you liked it. The ending was the bit that was hardest, and the bit I was least happy with. But I couldn’t find something I was happier with.

  2. This is about James’s mourning and remembrance of Ella, his wife. As he remembers a soup that he makes in her memory we see some past moments that they’ve shared together.

    I thought this was a sweet piece. I like how, as Andrew said, it avoids despair. Rather, it focuses on the good things they enjoyed together — I think it better brings out the sadness, because it highlights what they’ve now lost.

  3. I really liked this.
    Soft without being mushy and heart-warming without being soppy.

    I think I agree re last paragraph, but only because it contrasts with the fairly matter-of-fact-ness of the others.

    Made me sniffle a little bit… *blink*

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