While comforting, chowder made with cream or half and half and butter can make an otherwise healthy bowl of warm vegetables and possibly protein (think clam chowder) high in calories and saturated fat. Enjoy the creamy consistency you expect from a good chowder but cut down on fat content by using twice the amount of stock or water and half the amount of whole milk, and by using heart-healthy extra virgin olive oil instead of butter to saute the vegetables. Make this recipe with any vegetables you need to use before they go bad.
Ingredients:1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
Pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 fresh cayenne pepper, diced or a pinch of dried chili flakes
1 large sweet red bell pepper, diced
3 to 4 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 fresh bay leaf
1 zucchini, diced
1 waxy potato (skin left on), diced
2 ears corn
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic, carrots, celery, cayenne pepper and sweet red peppers. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.
Tie together the thyme and rosemary with kitchen twine (to make it easier to get out of the pot later) and add to vegetables, along with the bay leaf.
Add zucchini and potato to the pot. Cut the kernels of the corn and add to the pot, along with the cob. The cob will simmer in the soup and give it extra flavor and body.
Add chicken or vegetable stock. Bring soup up to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if needed.
Let cook about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add whole milk and cook another 5 minutes or so, until soup is warmed through. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with a wedge of corn bread or whole-wheat crusty loaf and enjoy.
Note: If you substitute skim milk for the whole milk the soup might curdle if you accidentally turn the heat up to high. It will still taste fine, but just won't look as pretty.
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