Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, and season generously with salt. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and season with salt, as well. Boil the spinach, uncovered, until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge the spinach into the ice water. Drain and squeeze the excess water from the spinach, and finely chop. Set aside in a medium bowl.
In a sauce pan, heat 1 1/2 cups of the milk with the onion, bay leaf, and thyme to just below the boiling point. Set aside. In another small sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat and then sift in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain the sauce into the bowl of spinach. Stir to combine.
To serve, heat the creamed spinach in a saucepan over medium heat. Season with the 3/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste; add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. (Adjust consistency with remaining milk, if necessary.) Serve.
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