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Posted on Nov 12, 2015 |

Rita’s Recipe: Carrot Ginger Soup; Do-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Rita’s Recipe: Carrot Ginger Soup; Do-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This light-flavored soup makes a wonderful fall dish -- or a great first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

This light-flavored soup makes a wonderful fall dish — or a great first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Herbs

Many of the herbs and spices we use in our traditional Thanksgiving dinner have their roots in Bible days. When you cook with these herbs & spices, it’s fun to tell the story of their origin and makes for a fun and impromptu Bible lesson.


Psalms 37:35 “I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green bay/age old tree.”

In Biblical times, people thought Bay leaves would bring good to them and they saw it as a protection against evil.

The Romans believed that lightning never struck the bay leaf tree and so wore crowns of its leaves as protection during thunderstorms.

I like to add a bay leaf to the stock when making my do-ahead gravy recipe I shared last week.


The Romans used it as a breath freshener.

That’s why you still see it on your plate in restaurants today.

When used fresh, flat-leaf or Italian parsley is generally preferred for its richer, stronger taste, vs. curly parsley, which is more of a garnish. It’s a beautiful garnish on my do ahead mashed potatoes.


Scholars  believe there is no doubt that this is the herb referred to in Exodus 37:17-18 about the making of the candlestick of pure gold.

Look at the menorah – when the Judean sage plant is pressed flat, it has been likened to the 7-branched candlestick/the menorah. Unlike most herbs, sage has a stronger flavor fresh than dried so use less. It’s the one herb that most all of us use in stuffing for our turkey.


Cinnamon’s history goes back before Christ was born.

It was actively traded a thousand years before the birth of Christ and it’s mentioned in many places in the Bible, – cinnamon was such an from Exodus to Proverbs to Revelation.

Both cinnamon and cloves are included in my recipe for next week: my clone of Frisch’s pumpkin pie.


Cloves were a rare spice in Bible days.

In Chronicles 9:9, we read that when the Queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she went to him and gave him rare jewels and spices, including cloves.


The ancient Romans also imported vast quantities of ginger and taxed it heavily because it was in such high demand. 

At that time, spices were expensive because they were so scarce. Ginger was costly for just the opposite reason—because it was plentiful and everyone wanted it, so they taxed it. Try adding some crystallized ginger to your cranberry sauce.


Karen Gibson, food writer and cook, shared this recipe on my cable show. This is a light-flavored soup. Perfect as a start to that Thanksgiving dinner. Can be made 2 days ahead and reheated.

  • Olive oil to film the pan
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds carrots (measured without greens), roughly chopped
  • 4 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sour cream and chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the onions, celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat until soft, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the ginger, garlic, carrots, and another pinch of salt to the pot and mix well with the onions and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the carrots start to take on golden edges.

Pour in the stock, and increase heat to medium-high to bring to a light boil. Reduce heat back to medium, and cover partially with a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and smash readily against the side of the pot with a fork. Turn off the heat and remove the lid.

Use an immersion blender to create a smooth puree right in the soup pot (or, use a regular blender, working in batches). Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.

Stir in the coconut milk and let gently warm. Ladle into bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro.


This is my latest version of this popular dish. Adapted from a listener who said she makes these every year. “They taste like fresh mashed potatoes, and are a little different than the norm since there’s no sour cream in them”, she said.

  • 5 pounds Idaho, Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 8 oz. regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Half-and-Half
  • Salt and Pepper to taste – Lawry’s seasoned salt is good 1/2
  • Chopped parsley for garnish – opt but nice – sprinkle on right before serving.

Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks. Put in pan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until done. You’ll know when you poke a fork into t he potatoes and it comes out easily. Some of the potatoes will start to fall apart. That’s OK.

Drain the potatoes and put them back into the dry pot. Over low heat, go ahead and mash them. This allows steam to escape.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese, 1/2 cup Half & Half and mash until they’re as smooth or chunky as you like adding more half & half if needed.  Season to taste. Spray a baking dish and put the potatoes in.  Dot with butter all over.


Spray slow cooker, stir potatoes to mix in butter and reheat on low 2-3 hours.  You may have to add a bit of half &  half after they’re hot.


Take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven, lightly tented, until hot throughout, about 30 minutes or so.


Follow instructions above, but reheat on medium, stirring every few minutes, until hot throughout. You may have to add a bit of half & half.

Rita Nader Heikenfeld writes a weekly syndicated column and blog for the Community Press, appears every Thursday on the Son Rise Morning Show, and is the author of several cookbooks. An adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, she is Certified Culinary Professional and Certified Modern Herbalist,  the Culinary Professional for Jungle Jim’s Eastgate, and a media personality with a cable show and YouTube videos. In 2014 she was inducted into the Escoffier Hall of Fame. She lives “in the sticks” outside Batavia, Ohio with her family, where they heat with wood, raise chickens for eggs, and grow their own produce and herbs. You’ll find all her previous recipes featured on The Catholic Beat here.

Rita’s Bible Foods segment airs on the Son Rise Morning Show every Thursday morning at 7:22 am (rebroadcast Friday at 6:02 am). Tune in to hear her discuss the history behind each recipe and the scripture verses that inspired it. And of course, for cooking tips!

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