Years ago, Panera served a scrumptious potato soup. My aunt came up with this recipe after trying Panera's soup and getting a nod from a guy who worked there when she asked if the original had this or that ingredient. It is outstanding! My family loves it, and everywhere I've taken it I've been asked for the recipe. Hope you give it a try - perfect for this chilly weather! I usually double the recipe and give some away.
Velvet Potato Soup
1 qt. chicken stock
1 medium onions, diced
3-4 ribs celery, diced fine
1 32-oz. bag frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes
4-8 oz. diced ham
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
Salt & pepper to taste
1 t. dried chives (or 2 t. fresh, chopped fine)
1/2 t. dried dill weed
2 T. butter, softened
2 T. all-purpose flour
Bring chicken stock to boil in large saucepan. Add onions & celery, and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and milk, and heat almost to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. Add ham to soup. Place softened cream cheese in a medium bowl, and add a ladle or two of the soup liquid. Beat on low until cream cheese is pour-able. Return liquid to soup pot, and add salt, pepper, chives and dill. Make roux by combining soft butter with flour in a ramekin. Drop by spoonfuls into simmering soup. Stir slowly until thickened.