2tsps. chopped fresh thyme or scant ½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
In a heavy soup pot over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and butter. Add the chopped onion and sauté until transparent. Add the cubed potatoes, bay leaves, and clam juice, simmer, covered, until the potatoes are just fork tender. Stir in the clams and season to taste with the thyme.
Add the milk and cream. Bring just to a simmer and season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. If desired, puree about 2 cups of soup in the blender to thicken. For best flavor, allow chowder to set overnight (in refrigerator) and reheat gently. Makes 8 servings.