In a frying pan, fry bacon, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until crispy; drain off the fat and reserve. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain. Break or cut fried bacon into pieces: set aside for garnish.
In large soup pot or cast-iron Dutch Oven, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. In the bacon fat, add onions, green peppers and celery and saute until soft.
Add clams and clam juice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and datil peppers. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Add potatoes and cook 30 to 45 minutes more.
NOTE: Add additional stock, or clam juice if broth is too thick. You may have to add a little water (or more tomatoes) to adjust consistency. You can also adjust the amounts of vegetables to suit your taste as this chowder is thick and chunky.
Some people prefer to refrigerate the prepared soup over night before serving. If you decide to refrigerate, reheat soup before serving.
Makes 10 servings.
* Habanero or jalapeno chile peppers may be substituted, but your chowder will not be considered authentic. If you do not live in the St. Augustine, Florida area, it is pretty much impossible to find these chile peppers.
Minorcan Clam Chowder Recipe: https://whatscookingamerica.net/history/chowder/minorcanchowder.htm