In a large deep soup kettle heat olive oil and sate' garlic, onion and barley until onion is translucent.
Stir in vegetables, (except cabbage and mushrooms, if used) and sauté 2 to 3 minutes
Add water and bring to a boil.
Add parsley and bay leaf, cover and reduce heat.
Simmer about 40 minutes or until veggies and barley are just tender.
Stir in tomatoes and add sugar, salt and pepper.
Add cabbage and mushrooms and simmer 15 minutes longer, or until veggies and barley are completely tender.
Just before serving, sprinkle each portion with Parmesan cheese.
Yields: 6 servings.
Note: Barley tends to thicken on standing, so if soup seems a little thick, simply add a little water or reserved veggie stock until you reach the desired consistency.
This one is very good for dieters.