My stew looked exactly like the photo. It was very good as long as you expect a stew, not what I would normally consider chili. I went ahead and added some crushed red pepper and topped the steaming bowls off with cheddar, garlic croutons and chopped green onions. The instructions call for adding celery but it's not in the ingredients list. I used two stalks, chopped. I didn't feel either pasta or rice was necessary. It was great as is.