I do this whole recipe in my soup pot.
Sauté 6 slices of bacon. Remove bacon from pan and set aside.
Sauté in the bacon drippings:
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
6 cups raw diced potatoes
Allow onions and celery to get transparent, but do not brown.
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 cup water
(Okay, it’s not part of the recipe, but go ahead and shake some garlic powder or garlic salt over it all.)
Simmer until potatoes are done. Crumble the bacon (if you have not eaten it) and add to pot. Also, 1-1/2 quarts of milk.* Heat to just below the boiling point. Float 4 tablespoons of butter or margarine on top. Cover and let stand 30 minutes before serving. You might like to reheat a bit first. If too thick, add more milk.
*For a thick, rich texture, use cream or half-and-half. I think it tastes just as great with 2% or even 1% milk.
For Potato & Ham Soup, add 1-1/2 cups of diced cooked ham.
For Corn Chowder, decrease potatoes to 1-1/2 cups and add one medium can of creamed corn.
For Fish Chowder, add cooked, flaked mild white fish (leftover from dinner a night or two earlier)
For Vegetable Chowder, sauté and add 2 cups shredded cabbage, 1 cup sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped green pepper.
For Clam Chowder (New England style), add liquid from 2 cans of minced clams at same time as you add the water. Later, add the minced clams along with the crumbled bacon.