8 ounces (1/2 pound) bacon
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 T garlic, minced (this is about 12 small-medium cloves)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 15-ounce cans of corn, drained
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 quarts chicken broth (8 cups)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk or half & half
**optional**2-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1. Place a large stock pot over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes.
2. Remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. Leave about 1/4 cup drippings in the pot.
3. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring often until vegetables are soft, at least 5 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the bell pepper and corn to the pot, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
6. Add chicken broth. Then potatoes, cayenne pepper, and crumbled bacon (keep a little bacon out if you'd like to garnish.)
7. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
8. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
9. Add the flour. Stir to combine, and allow to continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes.
10. Slowly add the milk, about a 1/4 cup at a time, stirring to prevent lumps. Allow the mixture to heat through, then add to your soup mixture when potatoes are cooked through.
11. Bring your soup mixture back to a low simmer to heat through. If you're adding cheese, add it now, a little at a time. Stir mixture until cheese is melted and incorporated.
12. Garnish with additional bacon and cheese, if desired. Serve warm with toasted rusty bread.