Clam Chowder, New England Style



1 doz chowder clams*
2 oz bacon
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
2 large red or yellow potatoes
2 cups milk
1/2 cup cream
1 t pepper
1 t thyme
salt to taste

* Add white fish (cod or haddock), scallops, shrimp, and/or lobster if desired. Cook them in the clam juice to make a hearty stock. Remove and dice before cooking the potatoes.

Clean the clams. Place them in a large pan with a little water in the bottom. Heat until the clams open. Set aside to cool.

Finely chop the bacon, onion, and celery. Brown the bacon. Add the onion and celery and saute until the onion is transparent.

Open the clam shells and remove the clam being careful to keep as much of the clam juice as possible. Chop the clams. Strain the clam juice through a wet paper towel to remove any sand.

Dice the potatoes.

Add salt to the clam juice. I use up to a tablespoon of salt. Cook the potatoes in the clam juice adding water if necessary.

When the potatoes are just soft, add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to blend the flavors.