1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. finely chopped celery (I skipped this)
1/2 c. chopped sweet red pepper
2 T. butter
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix (I made my own using this recipe and used 2 T of it)
4 1/4 c. milk
2 c. frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 c. frozen corn, thawed (I didn't thaw first)
2 c. cubed fully cooked ham
1 t. minced fresh thyme or 1/4 t. dried thyme
1/2 c. shredded smoked Gouda cheese
In a large saucepan, saute the onion, celery and red pepper in butter until crisp-tender. Stir in flour and dressing mix until blended; gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add the potatoes, corn, ham and thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Stir in cheese until blended. Yield: 8 servings (2 quarts)
**Just take a tip from me and either use the frozen cubed hash browns it calls for in the recipe, or cook your potatoes ahead of time and add them to the soup at the end. I threw in cubed fresh potatoes near the end and then it took forever for them to get soft, and some of the soup stuck to the bottom of the pot in the meantime. I should have known better. So don't be like me! :)
**Also, I used some shredded cheddar instead of smoked Gouda. Call me cheap (because I am ;)). I'm sure smoked Gouda would take this soup up another notch, but it was super good with the cheddar!