STOVETOP METHOD: Place all ingredients into a large pot on the stove. Heat over medium high heat until it starts to boil and then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
CROCKPOT METHOD: Place all ingredients, except for the cheese, into the slow-cooker in the order listed. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
Top with shredded cheese right before serving. Enjoy!
FREEZER MEAL: This soup freezes well. It is a frequent lunch request from my husband and my oldest son. I portion the soup into two cup containers and I then have lunches ready to go for both of them whenever the need arises.