8 ounces bacon (about 8 slices), chopped
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces), plus extra for serving
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
3 scallions, sliced thin
1. Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and refrigerate until serving. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat left in skillet.
2. Add onion, garlic, and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onion is softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
3. Stir remaining 3 cups broth and potatoes into slow cooker. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.
4. Transfer 2 cups cooked potatoes to bowl and mash smooth with potato masher. Stir cheddar into soup until evenly melted, then stir in mashed potatoes and cream. Let soup sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.
5. Microwave bacon on paper towel-lined plate until hot and crisp, about 30 seconds. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste and serve with scallions, crisp bacon, and additional cheddar.