Recipe courtesy of chef Cindy Hutson. Reprinted with permission from her cookbook, From The Tip of My Tongue.
Place the whole strips of bacon in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the butter, onion, and garlic and sauté just until the bacon is crisp.
Add the celery, carrots, and bay leaves and continue sautéing for 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir for 2 minutes. Then, pour in the clam broth and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Place the clams in the pot and cover. Simmer until claims open and then pour in the heavy cream. Add the chopped claims and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes more. Remove the bacon and discard.
Warm the mashed potatoes in a microwave and whisk some into the soup to thicken it, adding more if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Divide the chowder among 8 bowls and garnish with parsley and black pepper. Serve with half an ear of charred corn and a cocktail fork for the clams.