The recipe is in the box. Pull the card. Get out the cast iron dutch oven that isn't really a dutch oven but that's what we call it. Put it on the stove, turn the heat to medium, and throw in some olive oil. Grab an onion and chop it coarsely. Add that to the pan. Next up, the squash and the pears. Plenty of pears in the bag on the counter. The squash is easy, it's pre-chopped in the fridge. Open the door, pull it out, peel off the plastic, and, what's this? Why is it white and mushy? We were supposed to have this soup three nights ago. Stand over the open package of rotten squash and wonder what's next.
The onions are sizzling. Stir them in the oil. Lower the heat. There were carrots in the fridge. Lots of them. They're still good, right? Grab the computer, type "carrot pear soup," and hit enter. Click on the first result. At this point there's no good in being choosy. Those onions are cooking. A pound and a half of carrots. Go to the fridge, pull out the bag, dump the carrots on the counter. They're okay. Good in fact. Grab the peeler. Peel those carrots fast, chop off the ends, roughly dice them. Try not to cut off any fingers.
One by one, add the chopped carrots to the not quite dutch oven to bring down the temperature and maybe save that poor onion. It doesn't matter how many carrot peels are all over the floor and counter. They can be cleaned later. Peel, trim, chop, and get them into the pot. Grab the bag of pears. They haven't gone bad. Hell, they're not even very ripe. This soup is going to need some extra broth or stock, whatever we have. Peel, core, chop, and get them into the pot. The recipe says two pears, but what do they know. Make it four. Maybe five. It's tough to count at this speed. Still have all ten fingers. No blood.
The recipe calls for four and a half cups of broth. Those carrot peels all over the floor and counter would have been good for making broth, but that ship has sailed. There's no broth in the fridge. Got to be a couple cartons in the pantry. Go get them. Open the pantry, search on the shelf where the broth is. Then search the other shelves. Search them again. Of course there's broth. There's always broth in the pantry. Keep looking.
Go to the computer. Type "replacement for vegetable broth." Swear at the suggestion "use beef or chicken broth." Swear now. It's okay. Go to the cupboard and pull down the measuring cup. Fill it with two cups of water. Dump that in the not dutch oven. Fill it again and dump it. Get half a cup more and pour that in. Now, make half-ass stock.
Pull down the kosher salt and add generously. Pick up the pepper mill and grind it sixteen times. Think it over and then grind eight more. Stand at the spice cupboard and work through the alphabet of spices. Allspice but not basil, coriander, ginger, dill, and ground mustard. Pinches and shakes. Why not garlic powder? Sure, give it a good shake. Give it another. Stir whatever it is in the pot. Admire the yellow color of the not-broth. The orange carrots that aren't squash. The browned onions. The under-ripe pears in great number.
Bring this to a boil. Inhale. Not bad. Almost smells like soup. It might even not smell like a mistake. This thing that was supposed to be one thing is something else now. What exactly isn't clear yet. Answers will have to wait. For now it's enough to have made something with all that squash rotting in the garbage and all the plans from early this week in there too.
The recipe was in the box. The directions were clear. Turns out that some important ingredients were missing. These things happen. Often. What happens next is important. Something has to be done. And there's no one else to decide what that might be. Give it a shot. See what happens. Just do something.
These are the things I tell myself.