LFS is the best, But it is from scratch too. I mean to say, it's from zero to all.
But if you are looking for some base things to install and then work your way through, you probably need Slackware. Install minimal system, then using source packages, build your system. Gentoo will be fine in this purpose too.
Oops. It seems I've just submitted duplicate advice. No way to delete post? (need to be faster in keyboard)