As a native Rhode Islander, I would go with my father at low tide to dig clams and “quahogs”. The next day we’d have a clambake. Here is the version of chowder that my kids have voted as the best and doesn’t require you to wade into the tidal muck.
6 slices bacon, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups clam juice (bottled)
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tbl butter
8 ounces (or 4 cans) clams, chopped (reserve liquid)
1 cup Half & Half or heavy cream
Dash white pepper
In a 3-quart saucepan, sauté bacon until tender. Remove 1/3 and set aside; cook the remaining bacon until crispy; remove and crumble. Sauté onion in bacon fat until transparent. Add back in the tender bacon, liquid from canned clams, clam juice, chicken broth and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are just tender; take care not to overcook.
Add clams, milk and half & half or cream and butter, salt, pepper and thyme. (If you want to try authentic Rhode Island “broth” chowder,” save out some and don’t add the dairy products). Stir gently over low heat; do not let boil. When serving, top each bowl with crumbled bacon.
Serves 8 as a soup course or as a meal. Excellent with stuffed clams (look for “Rhode Island Stuffies” recipe on food.com).