I may have mentioned before that I have a theory about good cooks versus great cooks. Good cooks follow recipes. Great cooks don't even need recipes, and everything they come up with always manages to be fabulous. My mother-in-law was a great cook.
One of her specialties was potato soup. She had no real recipe for her potato soup, yet it always tasted the same. Because she used leftover mashed potatoes, the consistency was smooth and thick, and the flavor was, well, just yummy. My family never has enough leftover mashed potatoes to make anything out of, so when I discovered frozen mashed potatoes, I figured they might work to make Dorothy's potato soup. There's no "real" recipe, but I'll share as much as I can.
My family of four loves this soup, so I tend to make a lot. Feel free to adjust up or down, depending on the crew you're feeding.
-- Three packages frozen mashed potatoes (They come loaded up with goodies or with a little butter. I prefer the more embellished ones). I thaw these out before cooking with them, and they thaw out well in the fridge.
Put the potatoes in a dutch oven and then pour in milk in roughly the same proportion as potatoes. Cook over low-medium heat and stir often.
Once the mixture starts heating up, add cheese. I use Mexican Velveeta and a little pepper jack, but any cheese will do. Add as much or as little as you like.
If you use potatoes without all the extras, you can add those yourself. A little cooked bacon, chives, onions, etc. -- all are good in this soup. If your kids need more vegatables, they'd never know if you throw in a few grated carrots. You can even sautee some chopped jalapeno pepper and add to the mix. I prefer to add salt at the table, since many pre-packaged foods are loaded with extra sodium.
If you care to garnish, add a few chives, crumbled bacon and a little cheddar cheese. Bon appetit!