3–4cupsreduced-sodium chicken broth(or vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup)
1can2% evaporated milk(12-ounces)
1cupshredded sharp cheddar cheeseplus additional for serving
1cupnonfat plain Greek yogurtplus additional for serving
Cooked crumbled bacon(optional)
Chopped fresh chives(optional)
Lightly coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently and adjusting the heat so that the onion does not crisp or turn dark brown. Add to the slow cooker.
To the slow cooker, add the carrots, potatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, cayenne, and 3 cups chicken broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours, until the potatoes and carrots are completely tender.
While the vegetables cook, in a medium bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk and cornstarch until no lumps remain. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the cornstarch/milk mixture. Continue cooking for 30 additional minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the shredded cheddar and Greek yogurt. With a potato masher or large spoon, mash half of the potatoes directly in the slow cooker. The soup will continue to thicken as it cools. If you would like the soup to be thinner, add the remaining 1 cup chicken broth until you reach your desired consistency (warm up the broth first). Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, topped with bacon, chives, and additional cheese/Greek yogurt as desired.
*SUBSTITUTION TIP: If you plan to serve the soup with bacon, I suggest chopping it into bite-size pieces, then sautéing it in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings, then use it to sauté in the onions in place of the unsalted butter.
TO STORE: Place leftover soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
TO REHEAT: Reheat in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of milk or chicken broth as needed until heated through.
TO FREEZE: Instead of mashing about half the potatoes in the slow cooker during Step 4, you should mash almost all of them (you may need to add more broth to thin the soup). Let the soup cool completely. Then, place leftover soup in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before warming.