Clam and corn chowder is a staple in New England during the summer months. Here we make it healthier—and faster—than the traditional cream-laden version, but just as luscious.
Cut kernels from corn cobs. Reserve the cobs.
Add the corn kernels and bacon to a large pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the corn starts to brown, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon and corn to a small bowl.
Add butter, onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaf to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in juices from the cans, clam juice and the reserved corncobs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Discard the corncobs, thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
Stir in clams, milk, pepper and salt. Add half of the reserved bacon and corn. Cook, stirring, until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve topped with the remaining bacon and corn.