Golden Clam Chowder

I have a love-hate relationship with clam chowder.  I love the taste, but have a hard time finding one that is a good consistency -- thick and hearty, but not terribly pasty and heavy.  This recipe is a winner.

from Taste of Home magazine

2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans (6 1/2 oz. each) minced clams, undrained
1 bottle (8 oz.) clam juice
1 c. plus 1 Tbsp. water, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

In a Dutch oven, saute vegetables in butter until tender.  Add garlic;  cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the potatoes, clams, clam juice, 1 c. water, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Gradually stir in milk; heat through.  Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth;  stir into chowder.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in bacon and serve.

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