Place a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then fry the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onions and celery and fry until softened and translucent.
Add the flour and fry for one minute, stirring constantly.
Add the white wine and fry off until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue to stir.
Add the stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat until the stock has begun to boil.
Add the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme and half of the bacon. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and falling apart.
If using fresh clams, firstly rinse them under running water to remove any grit. Then in a separate saucepan, over a high heat add the clams with a cup of water. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium and allow to steam for 3-5 minutes or until the clams have opened. Any unopened clams are to be discarded.
Add the freshly cooked or canned clams and cream to the chowder. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with remaining bacon, parsley and crackers; Serve and enjoy!