This is by far the best Clam Chowder I have ever had! It is a very famous receipt that has wowed guests and diners at The Drake Hotel for many, many years!!! I sometimes use vegetable stock as opposed to fish.....
To prepare stock, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 3-quart stockpot. Skim off foam. Add carrots, onion, celery and crushed peppercorns. Saute until vegetables soften. Stir in wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil. Scrub clams. Add to pot. Cover; simmer for about 10 minutes or until clams open.
Remove clams from pot with a slotted spoon. Pull out meat from clams. Chop meat; set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Strain stock; set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare chowder: In another 3-quart stockpot, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add celery, onion and potato. Saute until vegetables soften. Stir in clam stock, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped clam meat. Cook over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
In a separate saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Gradually stir in flour to form a light paste, or roux. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk roux into chowder. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.