HEARTY CORN AND CLAM CHOWDER

3 bacon slices, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 large bay leaf
1 pound red-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1 cup whole milk
1 15-ounce can creamed corn
2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams
Sauté bacon in heavy medium pot over medium heat until fat begins to render, about 3 minutes. Add onion, celery and carrot and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add thyme and bay leaf; stir 30 seconds. Add potatoes, clam juice and milk. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add corn and clams with juices; simmer about 2 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
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