South-of-the-Border Corn Chowder
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup frozen chopped onions
2 cups frozen, cubed hash-brown potatoes
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) fat-free chicken broth
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, hot or mild
1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup finely shredded Monterey Jack, cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
Reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream, optional
2 tablespoons real bacon bits (not imitation), optional
Heat the oil in a 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Add the onions, potatoes and garlic, and cook until the vegetables start to brown and stick to the pot bottom, about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
While the vegetables cook, open the chicken broth and drain the chilies. When the onions and potatoes begin to brown on the edges, add the chicken broth. Stir vigorously and scrape all brown bits from the pot bottom. Cover the pot and turn up the heat to bring it to a boil.
Keeping the pot covered as much as possible, add the corn, cumin, chili powder and drained chilies. Stir to mix. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to develop the flavor. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the half-and-half. (Do not boil the soup once the half-and-half has been added or it will curdle.)
To serve, ladle the soup into 4 bowls. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese over each bowl and garnish with sour cream and bacon bits, if desired. Serve at once.
Cook’s note: Cubed frozen hash brown potatoes are sometimes referred to as “Southern Style.”
Nutrition values per serving: 263.5 calories (22 percent from fat), 6.8 g fat (2.6 g saturated), 46 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 7 g protein, 15 mg cholesterol, 651 mg sodium.