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Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder

Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder |

Who loves soup?  Me!! {shouts of squee and excessive fist-pumps ensue}

As you would expect of a soup addict, soup has been occupying my foodie thoughts for the last several weeks. Although the chilly, leaf-blowing, soup-perfect autumn weather hasn’t arrived just yet — it’s expected to hit 82°F today, hardly steaming-bowl weather (I hear it’s similarly beautiful throughout the U.S.) — the quickly darkening evenings have left me craving comfort food.

And, in this addict’s book, there’s no better comfort food than soup. {Squee!}

Oh, but first, before I forget, I’m happy to share with you all that I’ve been invited into the ZipList recipe network, so now all you industrious ZipListers can reach your recipe boxes right here on (find the link in the main navigation bar above, on the right) and add your favorite SoupAddict recipes directly to your box (look for the familiar blue ZipList Save button). If you’re new to ZipList, click the recipe box link above, register for an account, and start saving your recipes from your favorite blogs right away.

Yay for handy web tools!

Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder |

I fell in love with this broccoli queso chowder the very second I saw its photo in a recent issue of “Southern Living.” Instead of loading down a broccoli cheese soup with a ton of cheese for body, it uses packaged Southwest-seasoned hash browns to both thicken the soup and add a zesty spiciness.

I wonder if I was the only one who paused over this recipe, feeling momentarily like it’s a cheat, and a little too “semi-homemade”-ish with the whole pre-packaged potato thing.

But, the hash browns addition was so intriguing that I pushed through the guilt and grabbed the recommended brand off the shelf. Honestly, although a certain chef more or less ruined the convenience of packaged foods for everyone who cares about good cooking, in my heart of hearts, I don’t think it’s a crime again foodie humanity to take judicious short cuts now and then.

If you’re making the hash browns from scratch, I would suggest seasoning them with chili powder and some crushed red pepper to get the full zesty effect. I’ll be trying this myself soon, because this recipe uses just part of the bag, and my poor, post-harvest-stuffed freezer doesn’t need another half-used-something wedged in it.

Since we’re moving head-long into soup season, I wanted to take a moment to talk about one of my favorite soup flavor boosters: garlic. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll probably remember that I grow my own garlic (if not, Howdy! I’m Karen, I grow my own garlic and I luuuuv it. Garlic planting season will be here in just a few weeks, in fact. Woot!).

My homegrown garlic is a frequent ingredient in my soups — so fragrant and succulent, it adds extra character to rich, savory recipes, like this one.

Now, there’s minced garlic, and there’s minced garlic. Sure, a quick chop will get garlicky goodness into your meal, but a little extra love and attention will let that little clove reach its full potential. Here’s how to make a quick and extra flavorful garlic paste:

Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder + How to Make Garlic Paste |

1. Gather your tools. Use a large, flat knife, like a chef’s knife or a santoku. You’ll also need a biiiig pinch of kosher salt.
2. Garlic skin is one tough cookie. Lay the flat side of the knife on top of the garlic clove, and do a quick, authoritative thwak! with the palm of your hand.
3. The peel falls right off.
4. Slice through the clove lengthwise. Inspect the centers of each half for a thin, green sprout. If you find one, pry it up with your fingernail and lift it out. This sprout is the beginning of a new garlic plant and, while edible, is often bitter.
5. Chop through the garlic with your knife until minced. If you can, let the garlic rest for 10 minutes (studies have shown that allowing sliced garlic to rest before cooking allows a cascade of chemical reactions to occur, including the development of enzymes that produce allicin, a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Good stuff!).
6. Sprinkle a big pinch of salt over the garlic.
7. Tilt your knife sharply horizontal and drag the edge of the blade across the garlic pieces, pressing down as you go. This will smash the salt into the garlic. Do this several times until the minced garlic is soft and juicy.

Now it’s ready to add to your recipe!

Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder |

This recipe also included the interesting step of blanching the broccoli before adding it to the soup. This helps the broccoli florets keep their bright green color and firmer texture, even as florets continue to cook in the soup (is there anything yuckier than super-mushy broccoli? Maybe super-mushy-slimy okra? [shudder] Look at the broccoli peeking through the soup in the photo above. Green!).

I also added more broccoli than called for by chopping up the super-healthy stems and sauteeing them with the other vegetables. Broccoli stems are an under-utilized vegetable part, and it’s a shame, because they contain a lot of fiber, and have a mild, almost sweet, broccoli flavor.

Poor broccoli stems: com’ere, you need a {hug}.

Although I’ve prepared several soups so far this season (including this yummy carrot ginger soup), this broccoli queso chowder is the one that feels the most autumny, and I’ll be revisiting this recipe often as the chill of the year-end sets in.

Karen xo


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Southwest Broccoli Queso Chowder

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 4 -6
Author: Karen Gibson


  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces cubed ham
  • 1 small red bell pepper diced
  • 1 poblano pepper diced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 10-12 ounces broccoli stems chopped, florets reserved
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 of a 20-ounce package southwest style hash browns*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup grated asadero or monterey jack cheese about 4 ounces
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese about 4 ounces


  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 4-5 quart dutch oven or stockpot over medium, until it shimmers. Saute the ham cubes until browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add more oil if the pot is dry, then add the bell peppers, poblanos, onions, and broccoli stems. Saute 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic, potatoes, and cumin, and cook until the potatoes are browned. Stir in the broth, deglazing the pan as you go. Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low, cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Whisk together the flour and milk, then pour into the potato mixture, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until thickened slightly. Add the cheeses, stirring until all of the cheese melts and the mixture is thoroughly heated.
  • Blanch the reserved broccoli florets in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry, then add to the soup. Stir in the sauteed ham cubes, and serve.
  • *I used Simply Potatoes Southwest Style Hash Browns, as did "Southern Living," which I found in the refrigerated bagel/cream cheese/cheese section of my Kroger.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

Source: adapted from “Southern Living” via

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Recipe Rating


Friday 18th of April 2014

I never buy just crowns because I prefer the stems. Sweet, crisp and yummy.

Rocky Mountain Woman

Friday 4th of October 2013

no 82's here - I woke up to about six inches of snow this morning, so after I get plowed out I'm going to the market to get the stuff I need to make this soup and I'm going to eat the..whole...pot...myself!


Friday 4th of October 2013

Totally agree with you on broccoli stems. Love them. So sweet and to think people lop them off and toss them. This soup has been added to the "to make" list once fall actually arrives here...probably in November. Never would have thought of hashbrowns and look forward to your "from scratch version".

Julie @ Texan New Yorker

Wednesday 2nd of October 2013

This looks wonderful. I'm historically not the most willing broccoli eater, but I'm making a concerted effort to keep trying it until I like it. This soup seems like it will definitely help me, seeing as I love chowder, love potatoes, love cheese, and love Southwest spices. Thanks!

Ruthy @ Omeletta

Wednesday 2nd of October 2013

This look incredible, and I'm not even a broccoli-lover! I am a hashbrown lover, and though I did pause at the idea of using prepackaged hashbrowns, too, I like your idea of adding chili and flakes to homemade ones. It's starting to get a little chilly in these parts, so I'm excited to try this soup soon!