Sometimes I just can’t get with the program. While the rest of the world is in a heightened baking frenzy, filling my feedreader with images of luscious boozy bourbon balls, addictive coconut pecan biscottis dipped in chocolate known as crack cookies, and mouth-watering rose scented bread and butter pudding, I’m making soup. And not just any soup- healthy soup. Low calorie, low salt, with a spicy kick that makes you sit up straight and reach for a glass of water. Crazy, I know.
With the exception of a few fluffy marshmallows my stash of sugar and butter has remained behind closed doors this holiday season. Why forsake the most indulgent time of the year you ask? Well, it has a bit to do with an insane amount of bread baking and stepping on a scale prior to Thanksgiving. I realized that if I didn’t implement some healthy changes and increase my exercise levels, the holidays were going to hang around a lot longer than I wanted. I’m not a fan of inevitable January diets (or dieting at all for that matter), so just consider the next few posts my attempts to hold down the other end of the sugar see-saw that is November and December. (And yes, we are doing a calorie-laden, blow out feast for Christmas, so I’m not a total Grinch!)

This delicious corn chowder is a breeze to make with minimal prep work and only about 20 minutes on the stove top. It is thinner than most chowders and works well as a starter course, or as a way to stave off the munchies before dinner. Chipotle provides a strong flavor punch, adding enough of a kick to hide the fact that the soup has a minimal amount of salt and fat. The ability to use frozen corn kernels makes this a great winter soup and brings a taste of summer back into the kitchen despite cold temperatures outside. The recipe makes a small batch, so of course we doubled it and enjoyed leftovers for a few days afterwards. If you are looking for a healthy yet still comforting soup- this recipe is a winner.

And if you’re happily ignoring all things healthy for a few more weeks, did I mention these crack cookies, bread pudding, and bourbon balls?!? Oh so tempting…

Corn Chowder with Chipotle Pepper (Printable Recipe)
Adapted from Canyon Ranch Cooking
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 dried Chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon Olive oil
1/2 small Onion, diced (1/2 cup)
3 Garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 cups fresh or frozen Corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 cups Vegetable stock (homemade or a low-sodium variety)
1/2 cup Soy milk (I used 2% regular milk as we were out of soy)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chopped Cilantro, plus additional leaves for garnish
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 Green bell pepper, seeded and diced

Directions:

Boil a small amount of water in pot or kettle. Once the water is boiling, place the chipotle pepper in a small heat-proof bowl and pour the hot water over the top of the pepper. Let the pepper soak in the hot water until it is soft, while you prep the rest of the ingredients, about 5-10 minutes. Once the pepper is soft, discard the water, cut the pepper in half, carefully remove any seeds, and finely chop the pepper.

Place a medium soup pot over medium-high heat, and add in the olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the onion, garlic, and chipotle pepper. Cooking, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft.

Next, add the corn kernels, chili powder, and cumin to the soup pot. Stir well, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the corn is mostly thawed (if using frozen corn).

Pour the vegetable stock into the pot, and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until the corn is tender. Next add in the milk, and continue to simmer until the liquid is warmed through and well combined. Turn off the heat.

Use a stick blender, or carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender and puree. (Be careful blending hot liquids in the blender, as steam can become trapped under the lid and lead to an explosion!) Once the soup has reached a consistency that is to your liking (I went for a very smooth soup), stir in the salt and cilantro. Taste the soup to see if it needs additional salt or pepper (this will vary depending on the type of vegetable stock used).

Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish with the diced bell peppers and additional cilantro if desired.

For each 3/4 cup serving, this soup has an estimated: 85 calories, 2 grams of fat, 217 milligrams of sodium, and 3 grams of protein.

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