Here's what you will need:
I am not one to cook by following a recipe to the letter. This is very forgiving, and make it to suit your family's taste, and size. I do always start with a box of Au Gratin potato mix. Buy whatever is on sale. The store brand works just as well as the name brand here. I usually use two to three good sized potatoes, but I only had small ones, so I used four. I like to use sharp cheddar cheese for this dish, it does add a much better, and more rich flavor. I had mostly sharp, and a little medium that I combined. Use approx. 2 cups. If you have two cans of chicken broth, that will do. I had a full carton and just poured about 2 1/2 cups. You only need a pint of 1/2 and 1/2. You can use fat free, which I typically use, but of course, it is much creamier and richer with the full version. And you will add about 1 1/2 cup of water as well. PLENTY of fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt. A few slices of crisply cooked bacon to crumble on top of finished soup, and some green onion, thinly sliced which I forgot to put in photo.
Let's cook! Preheat your oven to 425 and lay your bacon on a rack in a heavy duty cookie pan and bake it for about 18 minutes or until crisp! ( I almost never cook bacon on the stove top because this is so much neater and easier to clean up! ) Cut your potatoes into chunky bits and toss them in a heavy duty pan. Then add entire contents of box of potatoes, cheese sauce mix and all. Pour in water, broth, 1/2 & 1/2 and bring to a boil on stove top. Add your salt and pepper here, and let it come up to a boil, then return it to simmer and put the lid on, stirring occasionally. It will not be thick at this point. But as the potatoes cook and release their starches, it will become the correct consistency.
PS Sometimes I steam a batch of broccoli and add this to the leftover soup for the next day and make broccoli and cheese soup that rivals Marie Callender's version!!!