Vegetarian Recipes: Tomato Soup, Avocado and Bean Salad, and Creamy Pesto Pasta Dish

Vegetarian Cookbooks

We've been on a search for vegetarian and vegan recipes since my husband decided to minimize most animal food types in his diet. I picked up a clearanced vegetarian cookbook called "The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook" from Bay Books (see cookbook on top right) for $4 at our local Waldon's Bookstore. It has not disappointed. We have by no means exhausted the recipes in this book, but after very little experimenting have already adopted three recipes as family favorites and frequent repeat recipes. Two could be deemed vegan and one vegetarian. So if you'd like to add any of these tasty dishes to your family menu, here's a soup, salad, and pasta dish... all three can be the main attraction.

Tomato Soup with Pasta and Basil

  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 med. onion (I usually do half an onion)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small red pepper finely chopped
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth (32oz carton)
  • 3 TB of tomato paste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar (I skip this part)
  • 1/4 cup of basil leaves or 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 cup of small shell pasta or macaroni
  • extra basil for garnish


  • Cut a small cross in the top of each tomato. Place in a bowl and cover with steaming or boiling water for about 2 minutes (longer is fine). Drain and cool. Peel skin downward from the cross and discard. Very easy. I then chop half of the tomatoes and put the other half in food processor to blend more into a crushed tomato.
  • Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook, stirring off and on for 10 minutes or until all ingredients are soft. Add tomatoes and cook another 10 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta separately in boiling salted water until firm but tender. Drain. Add to soup and heat through. Serve sprinkled with fresh basil leaves.
  • Optional: If you want to take out some of the tomato and pepper chunks with a spoon that drains the juices you can puree some or all of it for a smoother soup, but it takes extra time and you have to be careful for the heat. Personally I don't mind some chunks. Otherwise, I would just "puree" or chop them fine before cooking.

Tip: Try this soup with this Cheese Herb Bread recipe. They compliment each other well. We thoroughly enjoyed the two together. Note however, the bread is not a vegan recipe like the soup.

Avocado and Black Bean Salad:

  • 8oz of black beans (I get a can, rinse, and put in as much as I prefer.)
  • 1 red onion, chopped (we usually just do 1/4-1/2 an onion)
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 12oz can of corn
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • chopped cilantro (to preference), roughly chopped
  • 1 mango (a ripe one makes ALL the difference), chopped
  • green lettuce leaves


  • 1 clove of garlic
  • chili powder to taste
  • 2 TB lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil


  • Mix all ingredients for the salad in a large bowl, except the lettuce.
  • Next, whisk together the dressing and pour over the salad and toss.
  • Then, we usually just tear up what lettuce we want for the meal and then scoop the "salad" on top.

Tip: Avocados go brown quickly, so plan to eat it all within two days. Maybe halving the recipe could be an option for maintaining freshness too. You could eat this with tortilla chips and salsa on the side if you want a little extra something. I've also wondered how this salad would taste spooned over rice. Just a thought.

Penne with Creamy Pesto and Tomato

  • 12oz of penne pasta
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 6+oz of mushrooms (I use a whole carton of white button mushrooms), sliced
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of basil pesto
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes (we use more because we love, love, LOVE the flavor!)
  • ground black pepper to taste


  • Cook penne pasta until tender, drain, and set aside until needed.
  • Meanwhile, in another pan add oil and heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook in oil for 4 minutes or until soft. Stir in sour cream, pesto, tomatoes, and pepper. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is heated through.
  • Add pasta to the sauce and mix well. Cook stirring for 1 minute or until heated through. Garnish with extra slices of fresh tomato and shredded basil if you like.

Tip: This very simple pasta recipe takes very little prep and cook time, but tastes absolutely delicious. If you want a vegetarian pasta dish that makes your taste buds dance, try this recipe. Side it with some broccoli or asparagus for extra vegetables. Enjoy.

More Favorite Recipes
Wanna try some more of my favorite vegetarian recipes? Check out "Transforming Recipes for a Vegetarian or Vegan Lifestyle" and "Yummy Vegetarian Lasagna."

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Comments 2 comments

Beverly Stevens profile image

Beverly Stevens 5 years ago from College Station

It's nice when someone can recommend favorite recipes to try. I plan on trying your Avocado Black Bean Salad and your Penne and Creamy Pesto and Tomato, but I'll use the Tofutti brand better than sour cream instead of actual sour cream. Thanks for sharing.

Ashlea B profile image

Ashlea B 5 years ago Author

That could be a good option. I think you could do just Pesto too, though some Pesto's have Parmesan Cheese, so you have to keep an eye out. So good though!

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