Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add bell pepper and onion, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually add broth, and cook, stirring constantly, 4 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat.
Stir in cheese and next 4 ingredients. Simmer, stirring often, 10 minutes. Stir in half-and-half, and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired.
A delicious, rich tasting soup. It goes together quickly. I suggest adding the ground red pepper or cayenne slowly, to taste. We used diced red pepper in place of green pepper, as we prefer it, and it adds color. You could add diced cooked chicken for a heartier soup.