Meatless Meals: Our Favorite Vegetarian Family Recipes

It’s that time of year when fish sticks are starting to be everywhere at the grocery store – the start of Lent, when lots of Christians give up meat on Fridays. Even if observing Lent is not part of your family’s traditions, there are lots of great health reasons to make at least one meatless dinner per week. And, I don’t know about you, but I’m not too excited about the prospect of fish sticks on my dinner plate. But, a good vegetable soup? Especially during cold, cold winter? Yes, please!

I’d like to share two of our family’s favorites that will definitely be on our dinner table this Lent. In fact, they’re in our dinner rotation all year long. Hopefully they’ll help you avoid “Fishstick Fridays” or give you something fun to try on “Meatless Mondays”!

This one is basically just opening cans and chopping veggies. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Barley Vegetable Soup


  • ½ Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 medium carrots, chopped (we like lots of carrots, so we use 4, but the original recipe calls for 1-2)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 15 oz can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14 ½ oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • ½ cup regular barley (not quick cook)
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 5 cups chicken broth

Meatless Meals


  1. Put everything in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

This next recipe is more work, but worth the effort. Credit goes to my mother-in-law for sharing this great recipe with us.

Bean and Pasta Soup


  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 stalk of celery – chopped
  • 2 medium carrots – chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped onion (I always use Vidalia)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 16 oz can of diced tomatoes (I like petite cut best)
  • 16 oz can of white kidney beans (aka cannellini beans)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups of uncooked elbow pasta/macaroni noodles


  1. In a large pot, saute the celery, carrots, onion and garlic in oil over a medium heat. They are done when your spatula easily cuts through both the carrots and celery.  (Tip: I put them in the pot in the order I typed them here and do my chopping in between.  This usually makes them all ready at the same time.)
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer uncovered until about ½ of tomato liquid evaporates.
  3. Add pepper, beans and broth. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  4. Mash soup with a potato masher. (Don’t skip this – it makes a big difference.)
  5. Bring to a boil and add macaroni. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking during this time.

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Laura is a mom of three who works full-time from home as a Development Director for a children’s charity. Laura grew up in Maryland, spent her 20s living in Southern California and South Carolina, and has spent her 30s and now 40s in Iowa, moving to Iowa City in 2010. Laura loves dancing, reading, baking, and music. She and her husband Ryan started dating in college (gasp – over 20 years ago!) and they have been sharing life’s adventures ever since. Their biggest adventure is, of course, parenthood. With three kids, the action is non-stop - which is just the way Laura likes it.


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