What a wonderful soup to have on a cold winter day! Comfort food at it's best, this rich creamy soup is filled with chunks of potato, ham, cheese and hard cooked eggs. I've also made it using smoked sausage or bacon instead of ham. Either way, it's a very satisfying soup that my family loves. (Please note: the cook time includes the time to bake the potatoes)
Place a 5 quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the butter, oil, onion, celery, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until vegetables just start to soften.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the 1/2 cup of milk. Mix well to break up any lumps. Set aside.
Add the remaining milk and half & half to the Dutch oven. Mix well and heat thru, stirring often. Add the flour mixture and cook over medium high heat until thickened, stirring often to avoid sticking and burning.
Add the ham flavoring, potatoes, ham, cheese, eggs and parsley flakes. Mix well.
Bring to a simmer and cook an additional 6-7 minutes, stirring often, to heat through.
Serve garnished with shredded cheese and/or dried parsley flakes.