This thin, clear-broth chowder is the least common style; even in Rhode Island, it’s often served alongside the more familiar New England and sometimes Manhattan chowders. It’s the true seafood-lover’s clam chowder, containing neither dairy nor tomatoes to mask the fresh sea flavors.
2 oz. thin-sliced bacon (2 to 3 slices), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1-1/2 oz. unsalted butter (3 Tbs.)
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
4 tender inner celery stalks, sliced crosswise 1/8 inch thick (about 1 cup)
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic (2 large cloves)
6 cups diluted clam broth, plus the reserved clam meat (1-1/2 to 2 cups), finely chopped
1-1/2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch dice (about 3-1/2 cups)
2-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Put the bacon in a wide heavy-duty 4- to 5-quart pot or Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to turn crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour off and discard the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. Add the butter and onion and cook over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onion is sweet and tender, about 10 minutes. The onion shouldn’t color. Add the celery and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the clam broth, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat, wait until it stops simmering (this may take a minute if you’re using a Dutch oven), and stir in the clams and chopped parsley. Season to taste with black pepper, if desired.