After stirring the soup, Cook turns back to Despereaux and tells him this is the only time he’ll pass through her kitchen unharmed. The soup smell wafts toward Despereaux again, and he sniffs the air. Cook says that the princess is missing and times are terrible, and the only answer is soup. Despereaux agrees. Cook laments that soup is pointless unless there’s someone else to eat it, so she offers Despereaux some soup. Without waiting for an answer, she spoons a bit into a saucer and puts it on the floor. Cautiously, Despereaux creeps forward and into the saucer. He sips the broth, which is wonderful. This is the same soup Cook made on the day the queen died.
As Cook talks about soup, she frames it as something that’s almost magical in terms of how it can make people feel better. She’s making it now to try to soothe her own heart, which is broken because the Pea is gone. But soup, she acknowledges, is something that creates community—and since Despereaux is the only being around, she uncharacteristically makes an overture to him. In this tense moment, Cook and Despereaux are momentarily allies, bound together by her soup and their shared love for the Pea.
Cook asks how the soup is, and Despereaux says it’s perfect. Smiling, Cook says that soup can make anyone, mouse or man, better. Despereaux noisily finishes the saucer of soup and Cook says he must want more. But Despereaux says he’s headed to the dungeon to save the princess. This makes Cook laugh, but she says she won’t stand in Despereaux’s way. She holds the dungeon door open for him and wishes him good luck. Once Despereaux is through the door, Cook closes it and leans against it. She observes that this is such a strange day.
The nourishing, tasty soup makes Despereaux feel like it’s okay to break the mouse rules and speak to Cook, especially if he’s just answering her questions. And his choice to talk means that Cook becomes even more of an ally, offering him more soup and then even helping him accomplish a task that would be impossible for a tiny mouse on his own: opening the dungeon door.