I guess it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Usually in an intranet scenario you also want to be able to customize and control the look and feel of the pages contained within the site collection.
For 2010 I simply create a blank site, enable the publishing infrastructure at the site and site collection level and then for sub sites within this site collection create publishing sites.
If you need a formal workflow approval process use the 'Publishing Site with Workflow' site template for your sites.
However for 40 users you might be able to make do with a team site. The pages wiki library would allow users to edit pages and you won't have the overhead of publishing if you are not too concerned with strict governance.
One more thing is that if all the other sites are to be site collection then I would recommend using the Site Directory template and turning on Self Service Site Collection creation as well. Finally put in a search center in the main top level site collection so that users will have the ability to use custom results pages, people search and scopes.
Activate Site Directory template
Manage Self-Service Site Collection Creation