Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew

We went to visit my dad in the hospital today and while we were there, I flipped through a magazine my mom brought. Joel asked me we should have for dinner and just as he asked, I was on a page with an advertisement about side dishes. On the page was a piece of salmon with a bowl of fruit loops, so I jokingly said "salmon and fruit loops." Of course, that made him decide that he wanted salmon for dinner. I don't like fish so I had to start thinking of something else for myself. When we were done visiting, we went to the co-op and looked around. As I was looking at the produce section, I decided I wanted to make some sort of soup. My mother-in-law makes an "Italian Stew" type soup with her leftover tomatoes from her garden at the end of summer, so I decided that my concoction would be loosely based off that. When it was finished cooking, Joel thought it looked so good that he decided to keep the salmon for tomorrow's dinner and eat the soup tonight instead!

1 (28 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Eggplant, cubed
2 small Zucchini, cubed
1 medium Yellow Squash, cubed
1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into squares
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into squares
1 (small-ish) Onion, chopped
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
Basil (I used about 4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons)
1/2 tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

In advance, cut the eggplant into rounds and sprinkle them with salt to allow the bitterness to sweat out. After about an hour on the first side, use a paper towel and dab off the excess moisture. Flip the rounds and repeat on the other side. *This step is completely optional, but I prefer eggplant prepared this way.

Cube the eggplant, zucchini, and squash. Cut up the onion and both of the peppers. In a large pot, empty both cans of tomatoes. Add the vegetables, garlic, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Pour into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese.