Potato, Corn and Onion Soup

6     slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice      
1     tablespoon butter  
1     medium sweet onion, finely chopped            
3     ribs celery, thinly sliced        
1     tablespoon chopped fresh thyme    
1     bay leaf                       
Salt and black pepper, to taste  
2     bags frozen corn      
7     small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into ½-inch dice
3     cups chicken or vegetable stock       
¼     teaspoon cayenne pepper  
1½   c ups half-and-half
4     tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. In a soup pot over medium heat, render the bacon, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pot. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
2. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the butter, and when it melts, add the onion, celery, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until vegetables soften.
3. Add the corn, potatoes, stock, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf.