4 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 pound red-skin potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 cup (4 ounces) Havarti cheese with caraway seeds, coarsely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives for garnish
Sauté bacon in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat until browned and crisp, for 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out and discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.
Add onion and celery to the bacon drippings in the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add diced potatoes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add chicken stock and milk to pot and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook soup at a simmer until the potatoes are tender, for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let soup come to a boil. (Soup can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat and proceed with recipe.)
When ready to serve, add the cheese, a little at a time, to the hot soup, stirring until melted after each addition. In a small bowl, mix the butter and flour with a fork to make a paste. Whisk this mixture into the soup, a little at a time, and cook until completely blended, for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste soup and season with salt, as needed, and with freshly ground pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into 4 bowls and sprinkle each serving with chopped bacon and chives.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 30 to 35 minutes