Serves 4 to 6 with leftovers
Start the soup, get it simmering, and then start making dessert. Slide vegetables in a food processor to make the soup come together quickly. Don't worry about all the garlic, it will mellow and become rich and gentle with cooking.
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 each medium onions, and carrots, thin sliced
  • top third of 2 stalks celery with their leaves, thin sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thin sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons each dry basil and sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 medium zucchini, thin sliced
  • a handful fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 portobello mushroom, cap and stem washed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 of a large head green cabbage, chopped
  • 6 to 8 cups broth (low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Asiago or sharp cheddar cheese
1. In a heavy 6-quart pot, combine the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook over medium low heat 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted and aromatic. Stir often and don't let anything burn.

2. Uncover, raise heat to medium high, blend in the tomato paste, and basil and paprika. Cook about 3 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and the broth. Bring to a simmer, partially cover the pot, and cook 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and soup is full flavored. 3. Serve in deep bowls, sprinkling each portion with some of the cheese.