Smoky Cheddar Soup

I love making soups, especially this time of year.  They are easy, fairly quick to make, and my family just loves them.  I was playing around with making a cheese soup and we really love how this came out.
If you don’t have smoked cheddar or ham, regular would still be good too.  You’ll still get some smoky flavor from the paprika.  I served it with biscuits, which is what I usually make with soup, but breadsticks or rolls would be nice too.  I thought a tangy sourdough bread would be a good match too.
SMOKY CHEDDAR SOUP
4 T unsalted butter
4 stalks celery, sliced
1 lb cooked ham, cut in 1/2″ cubes (preferably smoked)
1/4 cup flour
1 quart chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded (part or whole in smoked cheddar preferably)
1 T smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add celery and ham, saute about 10 minutes, or until celery is softened.
Add flour, cook for 1 minute while stirring.
Add chicken broth and tomatoes, cook for 10 more minutes.
Stir in milk, cream, cheese, and spices.
Heat while stirring over medium heat until smooth and warm, but don’t bring to a boil.
Add parsley and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve warm.
Recipe by My Stained Apron
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