• 1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

• 4 1/2 C water

• 1 tsp kosher salt

• 6 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

• 1/4 C chopped chives or scallion tops, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon fat, or add enough cooking oil to make up the amount. Reduce the heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are clear (about 5 minutes). Stir in the potatoes, water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. Remove half the soup from the pan and puree in a food processor. Alternatively, mash some of the potatoes with a potato masher. Return the puree to the pan. Over low heat, add the cheese and stir until melted. Remove the pan from the heat. Add more salt if needed. Serve with the bacon and chives.

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