IRISH POTATO CHEESE SOUP
Peel and slice or dice potatoes; immediately immerse in very cold or ice water to prevent discoloration and set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, saute onion in butter (or liberally coat saucepan with butter-flavored non-caloric vegetable cooking spray) over moderate heat until tender. Drain potatoes. Add potatoes, hot water or Guinness Stout, and 1 chicken bouillon cube to onions in saucepan; cook, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add 2 cups milk, mixing well. Transfer mixture, a small amount at a time, to a blender container; cover and blend at medium speed until smooth. Return potato mixture to saucepan; add remaining 3 chicken bouillon cubes, 1 cup milk, 1 cup half-and-half, and cheese. Stir over low to moderate heat until cheese is melted and soup bubbly hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in soup mugs. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of minced parsley and/or crumbled crisp-cooked bacon as desired.
Note: May omit half-and-half; if desired; increase milk or reduced-fat or skim milk to 4 cups.
Variation: Add a few drops Worcestershire sauce and/or hot pepper sauce to soup mixture, if desired.