Heat a cast iron Dutch oven or other heavy stockpot over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the chopped bacon pieces and stir with a wooden spoon to distribute in the pot. Cook bacon pieces over medium heat until bacon pieces are crispy. Turn off heat. Remove bacon from pot using a slotted spoon and set aside.
Turn heat up to medium-high. Add the chopped onions to the hot bacon fat and sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
Add chicken broth, chopped potatoes, salt, ground pepper, and hot sauce (optional). You should have just enough liquid to barely come to the top of the potatoes. (Add a little more broth or water if you need to.)
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but not mushy.
Add half & half and reserved bacon bits. Stir over low heat until soup is heated through. Remove from heat.
To thicken the soup slightly, use a potato masher to break up potatoes just a bit. Remember though, this is Baked Potato Soup, not Mashed Potato Soup, so don't get carried away!
Serve with green onions, grated cheese, bacon bits, grated cheese and sour cream on the side.
Baked Potato Soup is delicious directly off the stove, and can be eaten immediately. However, as with most soups, it's even better the next day! Vegetarian OptionSubstitute:
+ 2 Butter (for bacon)
+ 3 cup vegetable broth (for chicken broth)
Start at Step 2.TIP: Bacon is way easier to chop small if it is slightly frozen.