Fry bacon in 3-quart pan until brown. Reserve 2 T. bacon grease in pan; remove bacon to paper towel to drain well. Crumble bacon and save it for later. (Can cook bacon in microwave and transfer 2 T grease to 3-quart pan.)
Saute chopped onion in bacon grease until translucent. Shake one of the three bottles of clam juice well; add to the sauteed onion. Stir in dried minced garlic and let come to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, but don't let the liquid get so low that the sauteed onion and minced garlic brown.
Shake the other two bottles of clam juice well and add to the mixture in the pan. Bring to boil.
Scrub the baking potato well (or peel it, if you want to); cut it into half-inch cubes. Add to the boiling clam juice and reduce heat (to low) -- so the mixture bubbles gently -- until the potatoes are almost done.
Meanwhile, drain the baby clams, reserving the juice in a cup. Put the clams aside. Stir the cornstarch into the reserved clam juice, blending well.
When the potatoes are just barely done, remove the pan from the heat. Re-mix the cornstarch and clam juice and add to the soup, stirring constantly as you pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan. Return pan to heat and stir constantly until thickened. (This may seem too thick.) Remove from heat and stir in the baby clams and the crumbled bacon. Add half and half or cream until soup is the consistency you want it. (If you don't want it so creamy, use milk or skim milk instead.)
Add garlic salt and black pepper to taste; serve warm. Do not let the soup boil once the baby clams are added; boiling will turn them into rubber. This makes about a quart of soup, enough to serve 4 with no leftovers.
Vicki's notes: The recipe that Cathe gave me in the 70s called for only two bottles of clam juice (instead of three), 1/2 C half & half (instead of 1/4 C), 2 T cornstarch (instead of 3 T), 2 teaspoons minced garlic (instead of 1/2 t), 1/4 t garlic salt (instead of 1 t), and no black pepper or bacon (just 2 T drippings for frying).
It also called for 1/4 t each lemon pepper and sweet basil, 2 t dried parsley, 3 drops Tabasco sauce and 1/4 C sauterne, none of which are called for in this recipe. The only things the same are the potato, the onion and the 10 oz. can for baby clams (Geisha). (The recipe said you could substitute a 7 oz can of minced clams if you had to.)