When I was growing up, we always had Clam Chowder for dinner on Christmas Eve. I have been searching for a great clam chowder recipe to use for my Christmas Eve/Christmas dinners. I found one and tweaked it for my preferences. Here it is! We had clam chowder for Christmas dinner this year.
In a large pot, add the bacon and cook over medium heat, until crispy. Drain the bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel, and set aside. Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pan and saute the celery, onion and garlic, until they become tender and translucent, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the diced potatoes, bay leaves, 2 jars of clam juice, 2 cups cream and the chopped thyme leaves. (If the liquid does not cover the potatoes, drain the juice from the clams to bring the liquid to cover the potatoes.) Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 5-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Stir to blend and taste for seasoning.
Stir the clams into the potato mixture. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Taste for seasoning. Add more cream, if needed. Top with the bacon just before serving.