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.
I made this for dinner tonight. It was sooooo delicious! Everyone in the family agreed on this one. Really good flavor and very satisfying on a cold evening. My store didn't carry the Southwestern-style hash brown potatoes so I substituted with Simply Potatoes Diced Potatoes with Onion. I used the whole bag instead of half. We topped our soup with fried corn tortilla strips and chopped breaded chicken strips. It was great, but this is also good without the toppings.