1/2 cup diced (1/4-inch) slab bacon (optional)
2 cups diced (1/4-inch) sweet onion such as Vidalia
2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice (omitted)
1/2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold (2 small), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 lb sweet potato,peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (omitted)
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 cups corn (from about 6 ears)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
*chives for garnish
Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then add onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper to bacon fat and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add all potatoes, broth, and thyme and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Add corn and cream and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper, then stir in bacon.