Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Using a Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed pan with a lid over medium-high heat begin to melt the butter. After butter melts, add onion and stir until soft and just when it begins to brown add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and stir constantly until the garlic becomes golden (only 30 seconds).
Deglaze the pan by adding the chicken broth and heavy cream and scrape the bottom of the pan of the browned bits. Toss in the Bay Leaf and potatoes.
Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). Test this by sticking a fork or knife into a potato slice to see if it's ready.
If you can find the bay leaf in all of those potatoes, pull it out. Otherwise, I offer a prize to a child that gets it on their plate. Do not eat the bay leaf.
Optional: If you are adding in ham chunks, bacon crumbles, or smoked sausage slices, do it now.
If you're using a pot that can go into the Oven from the stovetop continue to the next step. If you are not, transfer your mixture to an 8-inch square oven-safe baking dish.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake until the top becomes a toasty brown, about 15 minutes.
Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.