In the bottom of a large pot, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon pieces. (Reserve a tablespoon or so of the cooked bacon to use as a topping, if you desire.) Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the thyme, potatoes, clam juice, wine and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.