Place bacon in a large heavy-bottom pot and cook over medium-high heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Add onions and celery to bacon and stir until coated in bacon grease; add garlic.
Pour 1 quart water over onion mixture and cover pot; steam vegetables until partially tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 quart water and cream; reduce heat to medium.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir flour into melted butter and cook until mixture forms a paste. Add potatoes to flour-butter paste and cook until paste is lightly browned and the raw flavor of flour is gone, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir potato mixture into vegetable and cream mixture and cook until soup is smooth, potatoes are tender, and temperature is 170 degrees F (75 degrees C) to 180 degrees F (80 degrees C), 30 to 40 minutes.
Cook and stir corn and red bell pepper together in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Mix corn mixture into soup and season with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Add a few drops of hot sauce if desired.
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