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Corn chowder is perfect for fighting off the winter chill.

Staying home with a steaming mug of corn chowder may be just the thing you need these cold winter nights. This hearty chowder is chock-full of veggies, comes together quickly and can be made with low-fat ingredients, although true connoisseurs love the bacon version. This recipe serves 12.

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CORN CHOWDER

1 pound bacon or turkey bacon

1 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped coarsely

1 red bell pepper, chopped coarsely

10 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into ¾-inch pieces, diced

14 baby carrots, shredded

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1 ½ cups spinach or power greens, chopped

1 can corn, drained

1 can cream-style corn

2 cans mushroom soup

3 cans milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

In a large pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove, drain on paper towels and crumble when cool. Reserve 1 cup for garnish. Pour out the bacon grease, reserving about ¼ cup in the pot.

In the grease, saute the bell peppers, onion and celery until just tender. Remove vegetables, drain and set aside. Place the potatoes in the pot, add water until barely covered, bring to boil and cook about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.

During the last 3 minutes add the carrots and zucchini. Drain the water, add the sauteed vegetables, greens, corn, mushroom soup, milk, salt and pepper. Simmer covered 5 minutes or until hot. Add crumbled bacon and additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent of 7, artist, designer, caterer and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching, drawing and painting. Her "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" is on Amazon.com and B&N.com and website: www.pammcmurtry.com