Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add bell pepper and next 3 ingredients, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes and cumin, and sauté 5 minutes or until browned and tender. Gradually stir in broth, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.
Whisk together flour and next 2 ingredients. Stir into potato mixture, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low.
Add cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheeses melt and mixture is thoroughly heated. Serve with desired toppings.
*Monterey Jack cheese may be substituted.
Note: We tested with Simply Potatoes Southwest Style Hash Browns.
TRY THESE TWISTS!
Queso-Broccoli Potato Chowder: Prepare recipe as directed. Place 1 (12-oz.) package fresh broccoli florets in a 1-qt. microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; fold back a small edge to allow steam to escape. Microwave at HIGH 3 to 4 1/2 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender, stirring after 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Stir hot broccoli into chowder. Top each serving with sautéed chopped ham.
Makes: 12 cups. Hands-on time: 40 min.; Total time: 1 hr., 15 min.
Corn-and-Zucchini Queso Chowder: Omit hash browns. Prepare recipe as directed in Step 1, adding 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed, and 2 cups chopped zucchini with cumin, and decreasing simmering time to 15 minutes. Proceed as directed, stirring in 1/2 tsp. kosher salt with cheese in Step Top each serving with chopped cooked bacon, shredded Cheddar cheese, and diced red onion. Makes: 11 cups. Hands-on time: 40 min.; Total time: 1 hr.