This soup combines all of the flavors you would have in a loaded baked potato, and it comes out at the perfect creamy and thick consistency for a hearty winter soup. It is relatively simple and there aren't that many ingredients. The key is to infuse the bacon flavor into the entire soup, and then to add the creaminess by making a sauce separately that gets mixed in at the end. Best of all, there is no actual cream in the dish so it isn't as bad for you as you might think!
3/4 lb bacon
5 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3-4 green onions, sliced thinly
salt and pepper
Dice the bacon before cooking- this allows it to cook evenly and it's already crumbled for when you add it back into the soup. In a large pot over medium, cook the bacon pieces until they are crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain with a slotted spoon into a bowl lined with paper towels. Remove all but about 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pot.
Cook the onions, celery, and garlic in the bacon grease for about 7 minutes or until tender. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some freshly cracked pepper to the mix while cooking.
Next, add the potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. The potatoes should be fully covered. If your broth is unsalted, add a teaspoon of salt. You can always add more later, but the potatoes will have more flavor if there is some salt in the broth.
Cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, until they are just tender. Careful not to overcook because they will get mushy. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan make your roux. Melt the butter over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour. Let the flour cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking often. Slowly add the milk and continue to whisk until all the lumps are gone. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Once the potatoes are done, scoop out a small bowl full and mash them up before returning to the pot. Add the thickened cream sauce to the soup as well, stirring to combine.
Next, add 1 cup of the cheese, half of the bacon crumbles, and half of the green onions. Let the cheese melt and stir. Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper, and taste to see if you need to add more salt or pepper.
Serve with more cheese, bacon, and green onions on top. Enjoy!