Cook bacon in an 8 to 10-quart pan over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Lift out with a slotted spoon, drain, and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoons of the drippings from pan. Add carrots, celery, and onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; cook, stirring often, until vegetables are lightly browned (about 10 minutes).
Add potatoes and clam juice to pan. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced (about 15 minutes). Stir in clams and their liquid, bay leaf, hot pepper seasoning, pepper, Worcestershire, thyme, half-and-half, and bacon. Season to taste with salt. Heat until steaming, then ladle into bowls. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
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