This cherished recipe came from a friend many years ago. She was so kind to pass it along and I still have it on her own handwritten note. This makes it even more special !! It's a wonderful, warming, soup on a cold night !!!
In large soup pot, cook all vegetables with the 3 cups of water, and 4 tsp. of chicken boullion for 15-20 minutes. DO NOT DRAIN !!!
Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan, stir in flour, and cook over medium heat stirring for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the milk until smooth and cook for about 2 minutes till a bit thick. Pour this mixture into the large soup pot with all the vegetables. Add the ham (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cheese just until melted.
If the soup is too thick, add a little more milk and thin to your liking.