Potato Onion Soup
This is one of my favorite soups, and makes a great dinner when paired with crusty bread and a salad.
In a large soup pot, sweat 3 diced onions in a splash of olive oil and a pat of butter over a medium-low heat. You don't want to brown the onions, but you do want them to become soft, transluscent, and starting to caramelized.
Add 4 cans of low-sodium chicken stock (substitute up to 1 can of chicken stock with white wine if you like) and bring to a simmer. Peel and dice about 2 lbs of starchy potatoes (Idaho or russet) and add to the chicken stock, along with 4-5 peeled cloves of garlic. When the potatoes are soft and starchy (about 20 minutes), use a stick blender to blend the mix - leave somewhat chunky. You can also use a hand mixer or a potato masher - the goal is to mash the potatoes enough to thicken the soup nicely but not make baby food :-)
Add 1/2 cup of half and half or milk, 1 1/2 cups of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, and pepper to taste (I like this soup very peppery so I tend to add a lot). Simmer and stir for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and the soup is hot.
Optional garnishes: crisply cooked bacon crumbles, shredded cheese, chopped chives or scallion greens.
Vegetarian variation: use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.