2Place the potatoes on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes. You may also microwave if that is more comfortable for you. When done, the tip of a paring knife should go through the potatoes easily.
3Slice the bacon into lardons (thin strips) and cook in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving all the drippings in pot.
4While the bacon is cooking, finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Saute in a little olive oil until tender and slight color. Set aside
5Add the flour to the drippings in the pot and stir to combine. Cook, without adding color, until the flour and fat has combined, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk while you whisk to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
6Scoop out the potato pulp from the skins and add to the milk mixture. Mash with a potato masher until smooth but with some chunks. Add the cooked bacon (leaving a little out for garnishing the soup), 1/2 of the cheese,onion and garlic mixture, garlic and onion powder, seasoned salt, and season well with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat.
7Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with remaining bacon bits, grated cheese and chives.