Comfort food, family-style.
Bring two quarts, plus one quart of water, to a boil in a large soup pot. Add potatoes and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft (about thirty minutes).
With a potato masher or large whisk, mash potatoes. I like to leave about half of the potatoes in course chunks; mash them as much as you like. The more you mash, the more creamy your soup will be; the less you mash, the more "chunky" the soup will be.
Add the chopped carrots, onions, celery, garlic, rosemary, cream of mushroom soup and cooked ham. (You may use fried bacon, broken into small pieces, instead of ham.) Stir. Add additional broth, if necessary, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover and simmer for an hour or more, stirring occasionally. After an hour, check to see how tender the vegetables are. Add more broth, if needed.
Once the carrots, celery and onions are cooked down and very tender, add sharp cheddar and sour cream. Gently stir.
Simmer and stir for an additional thirty minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and the soup is very creamy.
The soup is ready to eat once all the vegetables have cooked down. My favorite way to make this soup extra savory is to let it simmer, over very low heat, for an additional two or three hours. I keep a close eye on the pot, stir frequently, and add broth as needed (don't let the potatoes scorch on the bottom on the pan!).
Once the soup is as creamy and savory as you like, ladle it into bowls and let it cool for about ten minutes. Garnish with fresh or dried parsley. Serve to your family with homemade bread, or buttered toast. Enjoy!
Instead of sharp cheddar cheese, opt for an aged goat or sheep cheese; the tart flavor will be quite the same as the sharp cheddar.
Use one can of coconut cream in place of the cup of sour cream.
There is a gluten-and-dairy-free cream of mushroom soup by a brand called Vivian's Live Again (available on Amazon).
The most time consuming part of prep is chopping the vegetables. If you're short on prep time, or out of fresh onions and garlic, opt for dried, minced onions (use 1/4 cup) and garlic powder (use 1 TBSP). You can also use shredded carrots and dried celery leaves (found in the spice aisle at the super market) in place of the sliced carrots and celery.