Chicken Corn Chowder

from melskitchencafe.com

*Plan Ahead: This recipe calls for cooked chicken.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 stalks of celery, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and membrane removed (this is important for flavor - but doesn't add heat because the seeds and membranes are removed and it is cooked with the other veggies)

1/4 cup thinly sliced or cooked chopped ham

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 (14-oz.) cans chicken broth

3 tablespoons flour

3 ears of fresh corn kernels or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

4 oz. softened cream cheese

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute celery, bell pepper, onion and jalapeno until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ham; cook for another 3 minutes. Whisk the broth with the flour in a liquid measuring cup or bowl and then stir into the soup. Stir in the corn and chicken. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat. Whisk together the cream cheese and milk in a large bowl until smooth (I had a difficult time getting my cream cheese to completely whisk into the milk so my soup had some minor small lumps but next time, I'll soften the cream cheese until almost melted in the microwave). Whisk the cream cheese/milk mixture into the soup along with the salt, pepper and cheddar cheese. Simmer on low until ready to serve.