In New England, there is a tale of two chowders, while New England’s thick and creamy chowder is perhaps more well-known, another style clear chowder is famous in Rhode Island. Unlike New England or Boston clam chowder, the base of this soup is clear with a splash of cream added just before serving.
Add the clams to a Dutch oven, cover with water, and then cook on medium-high heat, covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the clams and set aside
Rinse the Dutch oven and return to the stove. Add the bacon to the pot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Cook the bacon, stirring to render the fat, about 5 to 10 minutes. Use a spoon to remove the bacon, and set aside.
Cook the onion, celery, and garlic in the bacon fat. Cook until soft, but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, and deglaze the pan with the wine. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, water, thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and cook for 10 to 15 minutes to cook the potatoes.
Remove the clams from their shells and chop. Add the clams and bacon back to the pot. Check the seasoning. Remove the bay leaf and thyme.
Ladle the soup into the bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley and a splash of cream if you desire.