2 oz. bacon (Canadian bacon), diced
2 cups diced sweet onion
2 large carrots, cut into chunks
1 celery rib, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 lb. yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 fresh thyme sprigs
3 cups corn (from about 6 ears), drained if canned
2 1/2 to 3 cups heavy (double) cream
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked chili powder
Finely chopped fresh chives for garnish
Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onion, carrots, celery, and bell pepper to bacon fat and cook, stirring, until onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add potato, broth, and thyme and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
Add corn and cream and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add seasonings, then stir in bacon and heat through. Garnish with chives.