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Cook it light: Creamy chowder made healthier

Dear Jeanne: This chowder has all the good stuff in it: bacon, potatoes, corn and cream. I can make it with or without the fish, depending on what I have on hand. If I have fish left over, I usually make this, but I'd like to lower the fat. Can you help? — Grace Anderson, Sandusky, Ohio

Dear Grace: This is a good, creamy chowder recipe. If you don't want to add the bacon or the fish, both are optional, and then you have corn chowder. Or you could leave out the corn and have potato or fish chowder. You can alter this in many ways, according to what you have on hand. I have given the nutritional values without the fish, and if you add 12 ounces of cod fillets, add 50 calories and 10 grams of protein per serving. If you use salmon, you'll add 2 grams of healthy fat as well.


6 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

3 green onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 cups bouillon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-3 teaspoons herbs (thyme or dill weed)

4 potatoes, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups half-and-half

12 ounces fish chunks, cooked (optional)

2 cups corn kernels

1. Place the bacon into a large pot over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes, then add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook and stir until bacon is crisp and the onion, celery and carrots are tender.

2. Add the green onions, garlic and parsley, then pour in the bouillon. Season the soup with the salt, pepper and herbs. Cover and simmer over low heat, about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until tender.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour until smooth. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture is very light brown. Pour in a little bit of the half-and-half to thin the roux, then pour it into the pot with the vegetables. Pour the rest of the half-and-half into the pot and heat through, stirring constantly.

4. When the soup has thickened slightly, add the fish and corn. Cook over medium heat until hot.

Makes 6 servings.


3 slices bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots, small dice

3 cups fat-free chicken broth

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs (thyme or dill)

4 whole potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk

2 cups fresh or frozen corn

12 ounces cod fillets, cut into cubes, (optional)

1. Place the bacon in a large pot and cook until crispy. Drain and set aside; wipe out the pan. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and saute, adding chicken broth as needed until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, pepper, herbs and potatoes. Cover with broth, then cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Add the parsley and green onions, and cook for another minute.

3. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk and add to the vegetables. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the corn and fish if using and bring back to a boil (fish can be precooked or raw — cook until done, about 4 minutes). Add milk or chicken broth if needed. Stir in the bacon pieces and serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original recipe: 521 calories; 34 g fat; 91 mg cholesterol; 1,075 mg sodium; 45 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 5 g fiber. Revised recipe: 196 calories; 3 g fat; 6 mg cholesterol; 128 mg sodium; 36 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 4 g fiber.

Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her Web site,

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