Back in 2013 when I started this blog, I was still incorporating a lot of carbohydrates into my life. The common theme of my life was potatoes. They are the epitome of comfort and I generally need a lot of comfort to coax myself through the winter. This year I’ve decided to give some old favourites a low carb makeover, starting with my Chicken Barley and Beer Stew.
I also wanted to go back and redo some older recipes for an opportunity to put a bit more effort into taking better photos. When I first started out, I was very new to smart phones and phone photography. I didn’t realize the huge role that food photography plays in recipe blogging. Eventually I realized that I, too, would mindlessly skip over recipes if a picture was not included. Furthermore, I found I would skip over recipes that featured grainy, dark, and pixelated photos. Just like my very own from 2013! Take a look at this! And this! These are exactly the kinds of recipes that even I would skip over.
Food photography brings a lot to the table (honestly, no pun intended because I hate puns). It shows your reader that you have actually made this recipe at least once before. That you’ve tried it out and it worked for you. If you’ve put a bit of effort into plating and making sure you’ve got decent lighting, then you’ve probably made it look as delicious as it tastes. Your reader is more likely to trust that.
My phone photography skills were laughable in the beginning. With a bit more patience, attention to detail, and use of natural light, I became a bit better over time. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still not reaching for an actual camera. It’s all just phone photography with me, but I’m no photographer, so I use what I’ve got. If the photograph conveys the message that my recipe is edible and the reader understands what they are looking at, then I feel I’ve done my job.
If you know anything about my tastes in soup, by now you know that I love spicy. I’ve given this soup a new kick with the comfort of the original recipe. Cold symptoms were creeping up on me when this recipe was conceived, so I felt a little extra heat was necessary.
- 2 lbs chicken breast, chopped
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1/2 lb cremini or button mushrooms, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 tall can light beer (the cheapest will do)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
Cook chicken in half of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat until cooked on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Cook onions with salt and pepper in the large stock pot with the chicken juices and the remaining oil over medium low for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppers, celery, and mushrooms, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until fragrant.
Pour in the beer and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock and the cooked chicken and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and turn down to a low simmer. After one hour, remove the lid and boil down until desired thickness. I usually do about 15 – 20 minutes.
Serves 4 – 6.