Nothing says New England like clam chowder, or "chowdah" as we say here. Every family has its own recipe, and when we think of clam chowder, we think of sitting by the shore in stormy weather with a bowl of rich, thick comfort food. In one bowl there are ingredients from the farm, sea, and garden, including bacon, dairy, potatoes, and plenty of fresh herbs.
Sauté the bacon in a sauté pan until just crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and then sauté the garlic, shallots, and onions. Add the clam juice and thyme. Add the milk and cook for 10 minutes. Purée the mixture in a food processor. Add 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice.
Return the puréed mixture to the saucepan. Add the potatoes and cook until tender. Add the cream and the clams and cook on low heat until the clams are done, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved juice from the chopped clams, the salt, pepper, the remaining 2 Tbs. of lemon juice, and the bacon and heat through. Divide among six cups or bowls and serve at once.