This classic New England Clam Chowder from Boston chef Steve DiFillippo is loaded with tender littleneck clams and smoky bacon.
In a large sauce pan, add clams and water. Cover and cook over high heat for 6 minutes.
Remove clams that have opened with a slotted spoon and reserve them in a bowl.
Cover saucepan and cook remaining clams until they have opened, about 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and using tongs, discard any unopened clams, reserving the liquid in saucepan.
Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Pour the liquid from the saucepan through the sieve and reserve the collected clam juice. Discard any debris left in sieve. Wipe out the saucepan.
Remove the clam meat from the shells. Keep shells for presentation or discard. Reserve clams.
Set the wiped-out saucepan over medium heat and add in the bacon lardons. Cook until brown and crispy, then add in the diced onion and celery. Season lightly with salt and cook until soft and translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Add in the potatoes and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes.
Add the heavy cream. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Gradually stir in the reserved clam juice, toss in the bay leaves and thyme.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through and the soup has thickened, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in the reserved clams. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.