3 LBS potatoes, scrubbed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS flour
4 c. chicken broth
1 c heavy cream
1 sprig thyme or 1/4 t dried thyme
4 c shredded cheese plus additional for garnish
1 c sour cream plus additional for garnish
3 scallions, sliced thin
cook bacon until crisp. While the bacon is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of peel from the potatoes; reserve the peels. cut the peeled potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel. Add the reserved potato skins to the bacon fat in the pot and cook until crisp. transfer the skins to the plate with the bacon.
add the onion to the fat remaining in the pot and cook over med heat until golden brown. stir in the garlic and flour and cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Gradually whisk in the broth and cream, stir in the thyme and potatoes, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to med-low, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes are tender.
transfer 2 cups of the cooked potatoes to a bowl. Puree the remaining soup in batches in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and warm over medium heat.
Off the heat stir in the cheese until melted, then whisk in the sour cream. Return the reserved potatoes to the pot and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with bacon, fried potato skins, scallions, cheese and sour cream.