Saute: Chop the onion and the garlic cloves finely. Heat the oil in a pot and cook the onions and the garlic until translucent.
Chop: In the meantime, chop the carrots into rings. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and slice the quarters. Add the vegetables and the washed rice to the pot, stir well, and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, dry thyme, and hot vegetable broth. Add the sugar if using, about ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt and some pepper.
Simmer: Stir well, cover, and let come to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the rice is cooked. I prefer the rice to be relatively soft when making such a dish. Check and let cook according to your taste.
Stir a couple of times in between and add more vegetable broth or hot water if the rice becomes too dry. Most of the liquid should be absorbed, yet the dish should not be dry but nicely wet.
Adjust the taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the fresh herbs and serve with pickles or salad.