This soup has a deep, hearty flavor, but is both simple to make and surprisingly healthy. Make it vegetarian with vegetable stock instead of chicken. It's fantastic on its own, but can also be embellished with grated cheese, scallions, sour cream, or crumbled bacon in any combination. —Rivertree kitchen
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes well and cut into bite-sized chunks. (You may peel the potatoes first, if you prefer, but the skins add great flavor.) Toss with the onion, garlic, oil, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Spread on a large cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the pan, stir well, and roast for 15-20 minutes longer until the potatoes are very well browned and tender.
Remove and set aside the garlic cloves. Scrape the remaining veggies into a large stockpot. Pour some of the stock over the hot pan and scrape again, to get as much of that browned goodness as possible. Add the remaining stock (start with 4 cups total) to the pan. Squeeze the roasted garlic flesh out of the skins into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.
If you want a chunky texture to your soup (our favorite), either give it a brief whirl with an immersion blender or puree half the soup in a regular blender or food processor. If you want a smooth soup, puree the whole batch in a food processor or blender. Add more stock if necessary to reach the desired consistency.
The soup is ready to eat now, but will hold over low heat on the stove for at least another half-hour. Garnish as desired with shredded sharp cheddar, sliced scallions, cooked crumbled bacon, and/or a dollop of sour cream.