Begin by cooking the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it turns crispy. Once done, remove from the pot and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess grease. Once cooled, crumble the bacon into small pieces for later use.
Next, using the same pot, add minced garlic and diced onion. Sauté until fragrant and softened, which should take about 5 minutes.
Now it’s time to incorporate the rest of the vegetables. Add in diced celery, bay leaves, fresh thyme leaves, and diced carrots. Give everything a good stir and allow it to cook for another 5 minutes.
With the vegetables nicely cooked down, it’s time to add in the star ingredient – potatoes! Peel and cube medium-large russet potatoes before adding them to the pot. Stir well to combine with the other ingredients.
Pour in chicken broth and whole milk, stirring well to ensure all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
To thicken the soup and create a velvety texture, make a roux by mixing all-purpose flour with some water in a small bowl. Slowly pour it into the soup while stirring constantly.
Time to add another layer of flavor and creaminess – grated cheddar cheese! Stir until fully melted and incorporated into the soup.
For additional seasoning, add salt, pepper, and crumbled bacon. Continue to let the soup simmer for an extra 10 minutes to allow all the flavors to meld together perfectly.
Before serving, remember to remove the bay leaves. Garnish with chopped green onions or more shredded cheese for added flavor and taste. And there you have it, a delicious and hearty potato soup that will warm your soul!