This soup is super simple. The intense flavor comes from the prolonged sweating of the vegetables. This technique is the best way to draw flavor from vegetables. It is used to give a flavor... base to soups and stews and usually takes about 8-10 minutes, but here the veggies sweat it out for a full 30 minutes. And don’t fret about the garlic — cooked whole, it has a nutty sweetness and will give the soup a ton of flavor without being overpowering or bitter.
In a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Sprinkle with a little sea salt, stir, then cover. Lower the heat to medium and let the veggies sweat for 30 minutes. Stir them occasionally to make sure they aren't sticking. Do not let the veggies burn.
Remove the bay leaf. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Puree, then heat through. Add a little more water if you like a thinner soup. Serve with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.
If you’re feeling tired, buy some of the veggies pre-cut. It will save you time and energy.