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      Mary Anne's Cream Cheese Potato With Bacon Soup

      For those cold winter nights, this soup truly warms the soul and tummy. Plus, it is so easy and goes together in no time at all. It's great the next day, too. Serve it with crusty bread or corn bread.

      1 small onion, diced

      1-2 cloves garlic, minced

      1/2 pound bacon, diced, optional

      2 Tablespoons butter

      4 cups chicken broth

      1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

      1/4 teaspoon white pepper

      1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

      4 cups cubed potatoes (2-3 medium to large potatoes should do the trick)

      1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cut into chunks

      Garnishes:

      Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

      Sliced green onions

      Sour cream

      Crumbled bacon

      • Soften cream cheese by microwaving it for approximately one or two minutes. Set aside.
      • Sauté onions, garlic and bacon, if using, in butter until onions and garlic are translucent in color. Slowly add chicken broth, chunked potatoes, and spices. Simmer on medium heat until potatoes are tender. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening. Reduce to low heat. Add softened cream cheese chunks and heat, stirring frequently, until cream cheese melts.
      • For a smoother texture, use an immersion blender and blend soup until desired texture. Place soup in bowls and garnish with cheese, green onions, sour cream and crumbled bacon bits. Serves 4 to 6.
      Note: You can cook potatoes in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Let them cool and then chunk them. : You can use red potatoes and leave skins on.

      Note: If soup is too thick for your taste, add a little milk or more chicken broth.

      Note: Instead of bacon, you can use cubed ham or spicy sausage. Also, I have added a cup or two of corn to soup for a change-of-pace.

      Note: If soup is too thin for your taste, mix 2-3 tablespoons flour with either milk or chicken broth and add to soup.

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