Small Plates

Guest blog: Lentil soup from former colleague

I was lurking around Facebook a couple of nights ago when I came across a lentil soup recipe from former colleague Beki Calvert Lincks. I met her in 1998 when I took a job across the Columbia River. She was the newsroom systems training manager, a title she and her boss apparently made up. Indeed, she was so thorough with her training that I wrote everything in a notebook that I kept until now. Why? I don’t know, but I can’t seem to throw it away.

cropped-small-plates-blog.pngBut it was her sense of humor and grace that made me want to stay in touch, if only on Facebook.

Beki lives in Tennessee now. She entertains me almost daily with observations about people and politics — all good. She gives Facebook friends updates on the “grandbunnies,” her grandchildren, and she admits to thinking about Portland every day.

So here’s the soup recipe. I didn’t put it in typical Associated Press food style; I let Beki speak for herself. She apparently cooks the way she talks. (I love the details about how many turns of the pepper grinder and the shock at being out of tomatoes.) The soup looks great for cold, wet nights in the Northwest, and it gives me one more connection to a former colleague.

Beki Calvert Lincks: Did those lentils come from the state of Washington, one of the largest producers of lentils in the world?

Beki Calvert Lincks: Did those lentils come from the state of Washington, one of the largest producers of lentils in the world?

How Beki makes lentil soup

Most of you know I rarely use a recipe except as “general” reference. So here goes:

One medium onion (finely diced)

Four sliced garlic cloves

[I] slightly caramelized the onion and added the garlic just long enough to bloom. Added two cubes of Not Chicken bullion and a couple of cups of water.

While that simmers, dice three large carrots. Add to the pot.

Add about a quarter cup of barley and a tablespoon of salt.

And some black pepper — about 24 turns from the pepper mill.

[I was] out of celery so I added a teaspoon of celery seeds.

Added a 16 oz. package of organic brown lentils and more water — probably 3 cups.

Out of tomatoes (really???), so I used a small box of Pacifica roasted red pepper and tomato soup.

Also put in 6 or 7 sprinkles of red pepper flakes.

I let that simmer for about 30 minutes and then tasted it.

Hmmmm …

Added a heaping teaspoon (measured in my hand) of garam masala and a big pinch of ground cardamom. And another half of a medium-diced onion. Let the onion cook through and BAM! Tasty.
Enough for 4 or 5 hungry people.

— Beki Calvert Lincks

Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 49 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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