This hearty soup makes a gourmet treat from potatoes. Make it as low-fat as you wish, depending on your priorities. It's easy, too, although it's best with about an hour of simmering. It makes what the Hispanics call a "sopón", or hearty thick soup. I like to serve it with crusty bread and a small piece of spicy Georgia sausage or kielbasa.
1 large leek (Note #1)
Cut the leek in quarters lengthwise. Cut off the root end that holds it together, separate and trim off the tough dark green parts. Place in cold water to soak for a few minutes.
Place about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. (Note #3) Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until bacon starts to crisp. Meanwhile, remove the leek from the water, washing away sand and mud and rinsing. Slice thinly. Wash, trim and chop the celery.
When bacon is cooked through, drain well in a metal strainer or colander. Add the balance of the olive oil to the pot. Add the caraway seeds stir for a moment. Add the celery, leek, black pepper and bacon. Stir and sauté until veggies are limp.
Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into about 1" cubes. When veggies are limp, add the potatoes and water. The water should just barely cover the potatoes. If not, add a little more. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook for about 40 minutes, or until potatoes are thoroughly tender.
Add milk, and salt to taste. Add parsley and butter. Slowly heat, stirring from time to time, but do not boil or it will curdle. Add some potato flakes little by little, waiting a moment between each addition, to thicken slightly. (Note #4) Taste and readjust the salt. (If it's a little too salty, add a bit more milk and potato flakes.)
For those who like it hot, sprinkle each bowl with freshly ground pepper just before serving.
Note #1: If you love leeks, use two instead of one. Add a little more water and milk.
Note #2: Use whatever milk your family prefers. I use 1%, and find that the tiny bit of butter added at the end boosts the flavor and aroma greatly. Skim milk alone can be used if extreme low-fat is a priority; use no added olive oil after draining the bacon and skip the butter.
Note #3: This olive oil helps cook the bacon to a crisp while rendering out a great part of the high cholesterol bacon fat. When you drain it, most of that fat comes off with the oil. In this case, adding oil is a healthier way to cook.
Note #4: If potato flakes aren't available, remove some of the solids and puree, adding back to the pot to thicken the soup. Potato flakes are simply a shortcut.