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Cheesy Ham & Potato Chowder

3 cups water
4 medium potatoes, diced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb. cooked ham, cubed (~3 cups)
salt and pepper to taste
6 shakes of hot sauce

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add potatoes, celery, carrots and onion. Cover and let simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Do not drain.

In a dutch oven, melt butter. Add flour and stir until smooth.

Slowly add milk, stirring constantly over medium heat until bubbling and thick.

Add cheese and stir until melted.
Add ham and vegetables with liquid they were cooked in.

Heat through, be careful not to boil as soup may scorch or separate.
Salt, pepper, add hot sauce to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of shredded cheddar or a dollop of sour cream.

Terri's notes:
~ A 'loaded baked potato' in a soup!
~ You can easily use chicken or vegetable broth in place of water.
~ I've lighten it up by using only 8 oz. of cheese in the soup.
~ For a quick one pot version, start vegetables in dutch oven. When they are tender, add butter. Mix flour in COLD milk to get out the lumps before adding to the pot! Once it's bubbly and thickened, add cheese, ham and season.


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