Step 1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and fennel. Season generously with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes until barely softened. Add the leeks and bay leaf and cook for 2 more minutes.
Step 2. Add the polenta, stirring to mix in, then turn heat to high. Add stock and bring to a boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer for about an hour until slightly thickened, whisking every 10 minutes.
Step 3. Meanwhile, roughly chop the kale. Heat remaining olive oil in a big skillet and add kale. As soon as it wilts, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook five minutes until tender and add to soup. To serve, ladle soup into bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and offer parmesan on the side for your cheese eaters.