Erik’s Deli-Inspired 🌱Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque + Balsamic Veggie Sandwiches! (20-minute Plant-Based Dinner 😋)

I used to be a California girl, and I can tell you . . . living on the gold coast certainly had its perks. For one thing, there was the . . . uh . . . ocean. For another, there’s a soup and sandwich chain only located in the bay area called ERIK’S DELICAFE. It’s not fancy, or expensive, but it boasts quite possibly the best soup and sandwiches I’ve ever had. In my life. When I was growing up, my mom and I used to find just about any excuse we could think of to go to Erik’s Deli. I needed new shoes, and Erik’s was only fifteen minutes . . . further than the mall. I had a choir concert and there was an Erik’s on the way to the venue . . . if we took the roundabout way. Yeah we needed our sprouts fix. And we needed it bad!

I always ordered the “Pilgrim’s Progress” (turkey, cheese, sprouts, avocado, and mayo 😛 ) with a cup of their Tomato Basil Bisque. Simply to die for. My mom would always order the “John Muir” (veggies, veggies, and more veggies) and a cup of . . . you guessed it . . . vegetable soup. Hey, it was hippie-town after all. Even so, I couldn’t believe growing up how my mom actually enjoyed eating a meal of entirely vegetables. She actually squeals in delight to this day at the sight of a plate of sautéed bok choy. I kid not.

Anyway, all those veggies just weren’t for me. Or so I thought. Then, about ten years later, I became vegan. And a few months after that, my husband and I both adopted a “whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle” which we have been following for about nine years now. This basically means that we eat a whole lot of . . . you guessed it again! VEGETABLES. How’s that for irony?

I’ve long since moved out of California, and I haven’t had an Erik’s Deli soup or sandwich in over a decade. But over the years, I’ve fantasized about that “Pilgrim’s Progress” and that cup of tomato basil bisque more than I care to admit. Finally, just this past year, I decided that I had yearned long enough. It was time to end my agony and make some bisque, baby!

There was only one problem. Ok three problems: cream, chicken stock, and turkey. Yeah, see, those things aren’t technically vegan. But no matter! I would make a cream-less tomato soup and an all veggie sandwich and they’d both be killer!

Well . . . they weren’t. The cream-less tomato soup tasted exactly like tomato sauce just . . . hot. Yummy! And the “John Muir”-inspired all veggie sandwich had almost no flavor (unless, of course, you consider cucumber a stand-alone flavor). Worse still, it was dry. But just like my Great Grandma used to say: “can’t never did nothin’!” Ok, so she didn’t have great grammar . . . but she had great gumption! And so, I mustered all of mine and kept at it.

I’ve been working on my tomato basil bisque and veggie sandwiches for months now. Like women have gotten pregnant and had their babies in the time I’ve been fiddling with this soup and sandwich combo 😛 . Anyway, I’m thrilled to announce that this double bundle of vegan joy is finally ready to be presented to the world! And I can honestly say that I’m truly smitten with them! The tomato basil bisque is perfectly comforting and creamy, and the veggie sandwiches are actually full-flavor even without turkey or cheese! John Muir would be proud.

This soup and sandwich combo is now a weeknight staple at our house. It’s a family favorite for both flavor and ease. Plus it makes great next-day leftovers, which makes it all around the perfect school/work night dinner! Oh, and it packs FIVE servings of veggies. In other words, it’s basically a meal of entirely . . . vegetables. (And don’t give me any of that “well, technically tomatoes are a fruit” nonsense.) I guess it’s true after all. Mama knows best. And my earth-loving, veggie-addicted Mama was sure right about keeping it green!

I may not be heading back to the golden coast anytime soon, but I’ve finally brought a bit of Erik’s Delicafe into our family’s plant-based kitchen, and it feels right at home.


Finally! A creamy, yet dairy-free tomato soup!

Why we LOVE this Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque:

~zero prep (no washing, chopping, or peeling)~

~only ONE pot (virtually no clean up)~

~super easy (anyone can make this soup)~

~just minutes to make ~

~dairy-free, vegan, and oil-free~

~sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar~

~can be made in a giant batch for lots of leftovers~

~kid-approved! (ours say “yum yum!”)~

Difficulty: EASY

Active Time: 5 minutes tops

Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: a family of 5 + leftovers


  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk (must be canned, must be full fat or will not be creamy)
  • 32 oz carton of veggie broth
  • a pinch or three of pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 2 tablespoons maple syrup (this will vary a lot depending on the sweetness and quality of your tomato sauce. Some tomato sauce is quite sweet already. But most tomato sauce tends to be on the sour/acidic side. Use 1/2 tablespoon to start and add more later as needed.)
  • 1/2 cup dried basil (yes, a HALF CUP! I know that seems like a ton of basil. It’s like half the spice jar for crying out loud. If you want tomato bisque, just use a tablespoon or two. But if you want tomato BASIL bisque, then use a half cup and start buying it in bulk like we do!)
How we buy basil now since making this bisque. And yes . . . I promise it’s just basil 😉

Supplies needed:

  • large cooking pot
  • can opener
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon

~Dump & Done Tutorial~

1.) Open cans

2.) Dump all ingredients in pot

3.) Turn heat onto medium high

4.) Bring to boil, stirring occasionally

5.) Lower heat, cover, and simmer 10-15 minutes

6.) Taste Test: add more maple syrup, salt, and/or pepper as needed



What? A full-flavor vegan sandwich?

Why we LOVE these Balsamic-Veggie-Sandwiches:


~no cook!~

~pairs perfectly with our Tomato Basil Bisque~

~packs FIVE servings of veggies with above bisque~

~just minutes to make ~

~dairy-free, vegan, and oil-free~

~fresh and filling~

Difficulty: EASY

Active Time: 10-15 minutes

Serves: a family of 5


  • 1 loaf of good bakery bread (a good sweet loaf, sourdough, ciabatta, focaccia, etc.)
  • 2 cups arugula (can sub with spinach, or even fresh basil leaves . . . yum!)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3/4 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tub Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese, regular or chive
  • *optional* salt and pepper to taste (a must if eating on its own without the bisque!)

NOTE: I’m not paid to say this (hint, hint, Kite Hill) . . . but this is the only dairy-free cream cheese I have found that is 1.) good! and 2.) made without oil. It’s made with almonds, a few thickening ingredients, and some keep-fresh ingredients. That’s all. And yet it’s oh-so-yummy and creamy!

Supplies needed:

  • cutting board
  • bread knife
  • vegetable knife
  • butter knife
  • tablespoon
  • small mixing bowl

~Super Simple Sandwich Prep~

1.) Slice bread, cucumbers, and avocados

2.) Toss arugula in bowl with balsamic vinegar

3.) Dress bread: one slice w/ avocado, and the other w/ generous amount of Kite Hill cream cheese

4.) Add cucumbers and balsamic-dressed arugula

5.) Sprinkle with *optional* salt and pepper (a must if eating without bisque!)

6.) Serve with our Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque above (dipping encouraged!)


NEED DESSERT? 😋 Try our ~To-Live-For~ Vegan Chocolate Mousse!

Thanks for reading! Please share with another veggie lover!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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