Melt the butter in a large stockpot over moderate heat. Saute the onions for 10 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, corn and potatoes and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour in the clam juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the white wine to a boil in a large saucepan and reduce by one-third. Add the clams, cover and steam, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open up, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard any that do not open. Remove the cover and let the clams cool in the pot. When cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the shells, reserving the juice, and chop the clams. Set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.
Add the tomato, red pepper and jalapeno to the soup pot and cook over low heat an additional 10 minutes. Strain the reserved cooking juices and clam juice through a fine kitchen towel or coffee filter into the soup. Add the chopped clams and cook 10 more minutes. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice and pepper. Taste for salt, since the clams may be salty, and serve steaming hot.
c.1996, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved