The next council candidate recipe: Cowboy Soup, by Jonathan Bingle’s grandma

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Cowboy Soup and seasoned tortilla strips T hese days, recipes come in two forms: Online recipes with introductions the length of a Proustian novel (“every time I have a petite madeleine, I can’t help but be overcome by a remembrance of things past…” or on 3×5 note cards, handwritten […]

Click here to view original web page at

Cowboy Soup and seasoned tortilla strips - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
Cowboy Soup and seasoned tortilla strips

These days, recipes come in two forms: Online recipes with introductions the length of a Proustian novel ("every time I have a petite madeleine, I can't help but be overcome by a remembrance of things past..." or on 3x5 note cards, handwritten and stained with food, that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Wanna guess what kind of recipe "Cowboy Soup" is?

"It’s a recipe my grandma used to make," Spokane City Council candidate Jonathan Bingle says.

She lived way out in the country, on a cattle farm up in Stevens County. It was the sort of home heated by the pellet stove in the living room. In the summer, they'd swim in the pond or in an old satellite dish they'd fill with water.

And in the winter, Grandma would make "Cowboy Soup." Fresh vegetables from her garden. Ground meat from one of their freshly slaughtered cows.

Today, it's become a tradition for Jonathan Bingle's own family as well.

"When it snows for the first time, my wife is like, we need to make Cowboy Soup," Bingle says.

They make a huge batch, freeze it and eat it all winter.

I've asked all four candidates in competitive races for a recipe (check out Bingle's opponent's recipe here). Bingle, of course, picked Cowboy Soup.

It's a simple recipe, but a hearty one. And don't worry if you're concerned about allergies — despite the name, the recipe does not contain any actual cowboys.


Cowboy Soup and seasoned tortilla strips
Cowboy Soup and seasoned tortilla strips
The genuine recipe card - JONATHAN BINGLE PHOTO
The genuine recipe card
An artifact of culinary history - JONATHAN BINGLE PHOTO
An artifact of culinary history

As long as you get the right ingredients at the grocery store and remember to put everything in correctly, this recipe is very simple. That's part of the appeal — you'd think it was foolproof. But, if so, you've never met a fool like me.

1. Start with the ingredients. I grabbed the potatoes and peppers during a frenzied 10 pm employees-had-to-kick-me-out Rosauers shopping trip Tuesday evening, but I knew I had ingredients like ground beef and baby carrots at home.

Heck, I knew I had had at least a pound of fresh ground beef in my fridge for at least a week! But as I stared at the ground beef package, considering opening it, a creeping hairs-standing-up-on-the-back-of-my-neck sense of unease took over. The expiration date was far more historical than recommended. It's the sort of paranoia that had me, once again, starting a Google search with "safe to eat if..."

Ultimately, cooking is perhaps the only hobby that takes full advantage of all five senses. And so I brushed aside my fears, opened the ground beef packaging, and took a grand, stop-and-smell-the-roses whiff of the meat.

My nose is very finely tuned to alert me to spoiled ingredients through the subtle signals of explosive vomit. After rinsing my reaction out of the sink, I made the decision to not, in fact, cook with that particular strain of ground beef.

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Without any other reliable meat source, Bingle's Cowboy Soup would have to wait another day.
2. Flash-forward 24 hours: I've got the market-fresh meat ready to use. I just need to slice up some baby carrots. I groped around in the depths of the Forgotten Zone— the Feral Lands — of my fridge and extracted the baby carrots. But there's a problem with babies. Wait long enough, and they grow up.

But these carrots grew up wrong. They had become Eldritchian abominations, oozing with pain, hissing with dread, forever imprisoned in the nightmare borderlands between vegetable and animal, between life and un-life.

Puke. Toss carrots. Clean sink. Rinse. Repeat. Find a few less-anguished adult carrots. Make a note to clean out my fridge.

Toward the end of cooking the soup, I kept tasting spoonfuls of the soup. It felt like something was missing. This possibly qualified as Farmhand Soup. But Cowboy Soup, not a chance. I began to question the culinary prowess of Bingle's grandmother. Maybe his feeling of this soup had been skewed by love and nostalgia?

I tasted it again. Wait, wasn't there supposed to be corn in this. And, like, tomatoes? I was so proud of finding non-rotten food to put in the soup, that I had forgotten two ingredients: one of them vitally crucial, and the other of them corn.

4. Overcooked the tortilla strips slightly.

But for all those mistakes, by the time I sampled the final result — Band-Aided finger gingerly holding my soup spoon — the soup had won my admiration. Hearty and comforting, just like Bingle promised.

Jonathan Bingle's Grandma, you've done it again!

What I love about this kind of soup is the customizability of it all. You can see that in the recipe card itself, which has "can corn" written in blue pen on the ingredients card, while corn isn't mentioned at all on the recipe card.

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