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Corn Chowder

3 tablespoons butter or oil
1 medium onion -- coarsely chopped
2 ribs celery -- coarsely chopped
2 carrots -- coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 green pepper -- seeded and chopped
8 cups chicken broth -- (or 4 14.5-oz. cans)
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 large potato - peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen corn -- divided
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat butter or oil. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and about half of the green pepper. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, herbs, potato and 1 cup of the corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the broth (discard bay leaf). Working in batches if necessary, puree in a blender or food processor. Finely mince remaining green pepper. Add to soup with remaining 1 cup corn and the puree. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Stir in evaporated milk or half-and-half and serve.

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