5 1/4 pounds baking potatoes
7 slices bacon
4 1/2 cups onion -- choppoed
1 teaspoon salt
5 cloves garlic -- minced
1 whole bay leaf
7 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh parsley (optional) -- chopped
1 1/4 cups green onions -- sliced
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (5 oz) -- finely shredded
Preheat oven to 400║.
Pierce potatoes with fork, bake at 400║ for 1 hour or until tender. Cool slightly. Partially mash potatoes, including skins, with a potato masher; set aside.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to bacon drippings in pan; sautÚ 5 minutes. Add salt, garlic, and bay leaf; sautÚ 2 minutes. Add potato, milk, pepper, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, if desired. Top individual servings with bacon, green onions, and cheese.
NOTES : Bake the potatoes and shred the cheese the day before making the soup. If the soup needs to simmer awhile on the stove, you may need to add more chicken broth.