6 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 Tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon pepper
6 cloves garlic, peeled & cut in half lengthwise
1 medium onion
2 carrots & 2 stalks celery, diced
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
1 c. milk
Preheat oven to 425. Place potatoes in shallow pan. Drizzle with 1 TBS oil. Sprinkle with pepper. Stir to coat. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes. Turn, toss in garlic. Bake 20 minutes more, or until potatoes lightly brown.
When garlic is added to potatoes, start the broth mixture. In 4-quart saucepan, heat remaining oil. Cook onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and water. When mixture comes to a simmer, add carrots & celery. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add potatoes & garlic; simmer, covered, for 20 minutes more, or until all vegetables are very tender.
Set aside 1 c. of cooked potatoes, carrots & celery. Spoon half of soup mixture into blender; puree. Repeat with remaining soup. Return to saucepan.
Stir in milk. Add reserved vegetables. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Heat through. Ladle into bowls. Top with grated cheddar cheese if desired.