She hummed as she chopped the carrots. Sometimes nonsense notes, sometimes the melodies to hymns of which she had long since forgotten the words. The knife made a gentle ‘thwap, thwap’ against the cutting board, soothing in its regularity. She used the edge of her palm to push the diced carrots back up onto the blade, then scraped them off into the pot of slowly simmering soup. There was something comforting, something calming about making soup. Taking the small bits and pieces and leftovers of meals and dropping into a bit of water, or, if she’d thought ahead, some stock, somehow produced a thing greater than the sum of its meager parts. She often longed to do this in the summer months, to hear the soup bubbling merrily away on the stove, her calmly chopping whatever she found at the farmer’s market, or, on occasion, in her garden. She couldn’t bear the stifling heat of the kitchen, and the feverish warmth of the soup on those days. Now though, in fall, her favorite time of year, there was just enough chill in the air that she knew the time was finally right.
She tasted the soup. Something was missing…ah! The tomatoes, the ones that had begun to sag at their edges on her counter, begging to be used, had been forgotten again. She reached for the most dismal of the bunch, an old craggy fellow who’d split open just slightly on the vine, and whose skin bore the two tone colors of green-brown and purple-red. He was large enough that he’d probably be more than necessary, but she took a few more small, bruised reds, just because. She sliced them thinly, squeezing them gently every so often to expel the seeds, and then deposited the trim bits into the soup, watching the broth turn from a thin brownish hue to robustly orangey-red. She tasted the soup again. Perfect.