Step 1 Boil lobsters, covered, in 3 gallons of water and 3/4 cup salt in a 5-gallon stockpot for 10 minutes or until shells are bright orange-red and tails are curled. Remove from pan; cool. Remove meat from shells. Coarsely chop the meat; refrigerate.
Step 2 Combine lobster shells, 8 cups water, and bay leaves in stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Strain lobster stock through a colander into a large bowl; discard shells. Reserve 4 cups.
Step 3 Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Add onions; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in paprika and cumin. Add reserved 4 cups stock and potato; bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in lobster meat, half-and-half, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, if desired.
Step 4 Return pan to low heat. Add corn; cook 5 minutes. Garnish with chives, if desired.
If you’re using store-bought lobster meat, you can substitute equal parts clam juice and chicken broth for the lobster stock, which is made from the lobster shells. The chowder also works with two pounds of shrimp, substituting shrimp shells for lobster shells. This soup tastes best after it’s spent an hour or two in the refrigerator, but you can serve it immediately, if you prefer.