A more stout chicken soup

It was Monday night after a long trip, I hadn’t gone shopping and suddenly it dawned on me: “I need something for lunch, tomorrow!”  This wasn’t good.  I didn’t want to leave the house as I was feeling very lazy and I didn’t even know what I needed.  Nope, this time I’d be eating whatever I could create from my pantry and fridge.  It was my own hellish version of “Chopped.”

Throwing open the fridge I noticed that I had a package of chicken breasts that had been left to thaw for a meal that was never made on Sunday.  Great… got my protein, now I need some veggies.  I pulled out the veggie and fruit drawers to see what was in there to work with.  Yikes… not much there.  I had some carrots, celery, parsley, cilantro, thyme, collard greens and a few lemons.  Well, it’ll do.  I took everything except the cilantro and continued to look around.  Did I have an onion laying around anywhere?  Turns out… no, I didn’t.  However, I did have a large shallot.  Score!  The shallot in hand, I also grabbed a partial bulb of garlic.  Looks like I’ll be making chicken soup!  Grabbing my turmeric it suddenly dawned on me that my chicken stock was still frozen.  While that usually wouldn’t be a problem, I wanted to be in bed at a decent time, so I’d just have to find a replacement flavoring agent.  It was at that moment Jess asked if I could get her a Guinness.  That was it… I’d just use beer!

My lunch.

Sorry 'bout the presentation. Cell phone + work lunch container... still tasty, though!

About an hour later, with my very dark chicken soup in hand, I realized that this was probably one of my greatest “food improv” moment, ever.  So, if you would like to recreate this dish, here for your enjoyment is the recipe.  If you don’t happen to have all the ingredients, just wing it like I did… who knows what’ll happen!!

Ingredient Breakdown:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, skinless, boneless (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 Large Carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 Celery stalks, diced small
  • 1 Large Shallot (or small onion), diced small
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 c Collard Greens (or other leafy green), thick chiffonade
  • 1/2 c Flour
  • 1/4 c Parsley, minced
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme, minced
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 – 2 Bottles (12 oz) Guinness Extra Stout (or your fave stout)
  • 3 – 4 Bottles of Water (12 oz)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • Corn Starch (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

You’ll note the “1 – 2 Bottles Guinness” and “3 – 4 Bottles Water” there.  We’re looking for around 5 bottles of liquid, but it’s up to you to decide how strong you want it.  I went with 1.5 bottles of Guinness (the other half found its way into my stomach somehow) and 3.5 bottles of water.  Also, when I say “bottles of water” I simply mean filling up the beer bottle with water… beats a measuring cup.


  1. Spread flour on a plate, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Coat chicken with flour, tapping off any excess.
  3. Pour olive oil into a large soup pot and heat over medium.
  4. When hot, add chicken to pot. Let cook for 4 minutes, then flip and cook another 4 minutes.
  5. Using tongs, remove chicken to another plate and add the garlic, shallots, carrots and celery to the pot.
  6. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 6 – 8 minutes, then add the turmeric and stir.
  7. Add the chicken back to the pot, add the beer and water, then turn the heat to high.
  8. When it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes.
  9. While it boils, periodically skim off the “foam” of gunk from the surface.
  10. Remove chicken and put on a plate to cool.
  11. Add greens and thyme then let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes.
  12. Coarsely shred chicken and re-add to the pot.
  13. Turn off the heat, add parsley, then season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

That’s it!  Now, if you want the soup thicker,  remove about 1/2 c of the broth to a separate bowl and mix in 2 Tbs corn starch.  When completely smooth, just re-add to the pot.  All done!  This is a very filling soup and it isn’t filled with rice or noodles or any other fillers.  To be honest, for a completely off the cuff dish, I’m very proud of it.

So, have any of you had a late-night cooking improv that came out with great (or funny) results?

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