Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Mashed carrots and parsnips were a frequent dinnertime side in our house when I was a little girl.  And let me confess, I hated the mixture. 

But no matter how much I begged my Mom to spare me this weekly “treat”, these root vegetables regularly appeared alongside my roast chicken and potatoes.

Bowl of carrot and parsnip mash - Thanksgiving side dish

“Just one bite!” I can still hear her instructions. Dutifully, I let a miniscule amount pass my lips, before grimacing in disgust. But believe it or not, her persistence paid off.  Today I love this earthy veggie combination.

Most recipes recommend a vegetable pureé when pairing carrots and parsnips, but in Ireland the texture is seldom silky smooth, with a slightly lumpy mash preferred. I’m really doing a bad job of making these veggies sound appetizing.  By now, you probably have visions of me being force fed “lumpy” mash.

But honestly, this combo is truly satisfying and is wonderful alongside roast turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, or to set off a Sunday roast beef.

So how about a tutorial on how to cook this popular side dish – Irish carrot and parsnip mash.

Ingredients for carrot and parsnip mash



  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season


Irish parsnip and carrot mash doesn’t have any fancy onion or garlic flavors added. It’s simply the two veggies combined with butter, cream, salt and pepper.

I use white pepper for this recipe since that’s what my mom always used. I only discovered black pepper when I came to America. So, I stick to white pepper and, truth be told, I don’t like black speckles in the middle of this lightly orange colored mash.

Sliced carrots and parsnips

Carrots are harder than parsnips and take longer to cook.  To make sure your parsnips don’t go mushy while you wait for your carrots to tenderize you have a few options.

  1. First, you can just chop the carrots into smaller pieces than the parsnips, and boil the vegetables together in the same pot for the same amount of time.
  2. Or you can give the carrots a head start before adding the parsnips. If boiling the vegetables a 7 minute lead time is good, but if steaming, the carrots need at least 10 minutes extra cooking.
  3. Or you can do what my mom always did, and cook the parsnips and carrots in two separate saucepans, and only combine them when they are tender, drained and ready to mash.


Steaming carrots

I find option 1 difficult, since I can never accurately estimate the right size for each vegetable.

Since I don’t like cleaning too many saucepans, I usually go for option 2 and give my carrots a little head start on the parsnips.

I also like to steam the veggies, so I don’t risk burning my fingers when adding parsnips to simmering water.

Steam carrots and parsnips for mash

So steam the carrots for about 10 minutes, then add the parsnips and steam them both for about 20 more minutes until they are fork tender.

Mashing carrots and parsnips together

Drain the vegetables and return them to the bottom pan. Mash them together using a potato masher.

Adding butter and cream to carrot and parsnip mash.

Add the butter and cream and mash together a little more.

Seasoning carrot and parsnip mash

Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Carrot and parsnip mash or purée

Transfer into a serving dish and garnish with a nice knob of butter.

Feel free to add a little green with some parsley if you like. You’ll have all the colors of the Irish flag, green, white and orange.  I never saw fancy parsley on my carrot and parsnip mash as a child, so I just stuck to a nice piece of melting butter to garnish this dish for its photo shoot.

Hope you all enjoy this ever so Irish vegetable side dish. Here’s the printable recipe:

Carrot And Parsnip Mash

Serves 4-6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Christmas, Thanksgiving


  • 3 Large carrots
  • 2 Medium parsnips
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • salt and white pepper to season


Step 1 Wash and peel the carrots and parsnips. Cut evenly in 1/2 inch slices.
Step 2 Place the carrots in a steamer, add water to the pan base. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 3 Add the parsnips to the carrots in the steamer. Simmer for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Step 4 Drain the vegetables. Return them to the pot. Add the butter and cream and mash the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5 Serve warm and garnish with butter and parsley if desired.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


Parsnip and Apple Soup

Parsnips and apples, with a hint of curry, compliment each other perfectly in this creamy soup.

The pairing of parsnips with apples intensifies their sweetness, with an added underlying warmth from the curry powder, making this soup truly satisfying.

I love curry flavor, like many Irish people.  A teaspoon of mild curry powder, a hint of ginger and black pepper create a mildly spicy flavor level, but rest assured, this isn’t an overly hot soup, merely one that tantalizes the taste buds.

Parsnip and apple soup with curried parsnip chips

Heavy rain and blustery winds are always a reminder the season for hats, scarves and gloves is just around the corner. But as the colder days of winter beckon, there’s always comfort to be found in the kitchen.

The right soup is perfect comfort food. There is something reassuring about holding a mug of warm soup, blowing gently to cool it before it works its magic, warming the heart.

Parsnip and apple soup is smooth and creamy, and for me is certainly one of the best comforting soups in my recipe box.

Parsnips appear to be far less popular in America than they are in Ireland. They are a staple on most Irish dinner menus, and I remember eating them at least once a week when I was a kid in Ireland.

And so, I decided why not make a parsnip soup…. or for some crazy reason, my brain keeps saying parsnip snoup.

Anyway, here’s my recipe …..

Ingredients for parsnip and apple soup



  • 2 oz butter
  • 3 large parsnips
  • 1 medium apple (Granny Smith or a cooking apple if you’re in Ireland)
  • 1 medium potato (or 2 small potatoes)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and plenty pepper to season




This is a very simple soup. Start by peeling and chopping the shallots into slices. Peel and dice the potatoes and parsnips into 1 inch pieces.

Sweating vegetables - parsnips, shallots and potato

The first step involves sweating the vegetables. If you need to learn more about the technique of sweating vegetables, check out my post on soup making tips.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chopped shallots, parsnips and potato.

I use shallots rather than an onion, since their flavor is a little milder, but if you can’t get your hands on shallots, one onion will work just fine.

For this soup in particular I like to add the spices before sweating the vegetables. This helps deepen the spicy flavors in the finished soup.

So, stir in the curry powder and ginger and mix the vegetables so they are completely coated in the spices.

Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking, but avoid lifting the lid and allowing the trapped steam escape.

Adding broth to parsnip soup

Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I like to add a good dash of pepper to this soup, but seasoning is a very personal step in any recipe. For my palate, pepper seems to compliment the flavor of the parsnips.

Adding chopped apple to parsnip soup

Next, add the chopped apple and simmer the soup for a further 10 minutes.

Parsnip soup prior to blending

Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly.

I love how the apple pieces just bob and bounce on the surface of the soup.

Adding cream to parsnip and apple soup

Purée the soup until the texture is completely smooth using an immersion blender or in batches using a liquidizer or blender.

Add the cream to the soup and mix through. Reheat gently, without boiling, before serving.

Parsnip, apple and curry soup in a shamrock bowl

And there, you have it – a simple soup made with a favorite Irish vegetable. I love to serve this soup with curried parsnip chips as a garnish – they’re simply delicious.

Here’s my printable recipe:

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 10 minutes
Meal type Soup
Parsnips and apples, with a hint of curry, compliment each other perfectly in this creamy soup. The pairing of parsnips with apples intensifies their sweetness, with an added underlying warmth from the curry powder, making this soup truly satisfying.


  • 2oz butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 parsnips
  • 1 apple (Granny Smith or a cooking apple)
  • 1 potato (1 medium or 2 small)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (add extra for increased spiciness)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to season


Step 1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the chopped shallots, parsnips and potato.
Step 2 Stir in the curry powder and ground ginger. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking, but avoid lifting the lid and allowing the trapped steam escape.
Step 3 Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4 Add the chopped apple and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Step 5 Turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Purée until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches using a liquidizer or blender.
Step 6 Add the cream to the soup and mix through. Reheat gently, without boiling, before serving.

Wishing you all happy soup making during these chilly days of fall and winter.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom


P.S. My Irish shamrock soup bowl was made by Colm De Ris, an Irish potter.

Soup Making Tips For Fall Or Autumn

Once Labor Day has passed, and fall is in the air, it’s time to start thinking about soup. There’s nothing like a bowl of chunky, satisfying soup on a nippy day, to warm the cockles of your heart.

Soups come in all colors, textures, and tastes. In fact, I think it’s safe to say there’s probably a soup to to suit every palate.

Bowl Of Carrot And Coriander Soup

In Ireland, we describe a chunky soup by saying:


“There’s eating and drinking in that.”


Remember, in this case, the word “eating” is usually pronounced in a manner similar to “eightin”, as in the number 8.

But whether you prefer drinking a clear, soothing broth, or eating a thick, substantial stew, I’m quite certain there is an Irish soup for you.

In the next few weeks and months I plan to share some of my favorite soup and stew recipes.

I know some people feel a recipe is unnecessary for concocting a perfect soup, sticking to the motto:


“You can’t go wrong with soup.”


Truthfully, you can and you can’t go wrong with soup. For some all-in-the-pot, mix-it-all-together kind of soups, they taste delicious no matter what. But on the other hand, you can go very, very wrong with more delicate, puréed soups, that require the perfectly flavored stock, the right amount of seasoning, or a dash of cream or milk to add depth, and an underlying richness.

An Old Famine Soup Pot

To prepare for the “soup making season” I thought a post on some basic tips for soup success is in order.


1. Fresh is Best:


Any soup is only as good as the ingredients used to make it, and with that in mind, my motto is “fresh is best”. Fresh vegetables and good quality stock are keys to tasty soup.

Now don’t think I’m not known for opening a bag of frozen peas for a quick soup. I do use frozen vegetables frequently, since they are flash frozen at peak freshness, but I tend to steer clear of canned ingredients in my soups. The canning process adds way too much sodium for my taste buds.

2. A good stock:


Stock dictates the underlying flavor and ultimate taste of each and every soup. Choosing between vegetable based stock, chicken, beef or fish stock is the most important decision for any soup.

I often use store bought stock, but truly they don’t come close to the flavor of a good home-made stock. Recently, I have been paying quite a bit of attention to food labels and try to steer clear of any ingredients I can’t pronounce. Some cheaper stocks are full of preservatives, and are laden with salt.  Organic stocks are twice the price, but worth it for flavor and goodness. However, the budget friendly decision is to make homemade stock.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll share my stock making tips with a few basic stock recipes. With a crockpot you can simmer a good stock even while you’re out and about.


3. Herbs and spices:


Herbs and spices can lift a soup from ordinary to extraordinary. They’re my soup pot heroes. They add flavor, working away busily spreading their magic in the pot. Fresh or dried herbs work well, but the general rule for dried herbs is to use one third of the quantity of fresh.

Saute leeks, potato and onion

4. Make sure the vegetables do the sweating, not you! 


Many soup recipes start out be telling you to ‘sweat’ the vegetables. The term does sound a little gross for those not used to culinary lingo, but to tell you the truth, it’s a very accurate description of what is going on in the soup pot.

When “sweating” vegetables, they are gently cooked in a tiny bit of fat, to get their juices to leak out, and to release their inner flavors.  You get their juices flowing, so to speak.

To promote this process, the pot is covered to trap steam, which helps soften the veggies. It’s important to keep the steam trapped in, so lifting the lid is not recommended. Instead, lift the whole pot and give the veggies a good, old shake to stop them sticking.

This “sweating” usually takes about 10 minutes. The ingredients shouldn’t be browned or caramelized, but slightly pale after their time in the pot sauna.

Iron Viking Soup pot over open flame

5. Simmer, don’t boil:


Simmering is vital for good soup. When vegetables are boiled they end up tumbling all over the pot, hitting off the sides, damaging their texture and spilling all their flavor into the stock. So simmer, to avoid somersaulting peas and carrots.

Similarly, when reheating a soup it’s important to simmer without boiling. This is especially true for soups with added cream. When the cream boils it separates and creates a fatty film on top of the soup. So, my rule of thumb is, gentle heat for luscious soup.

Using Immersion Blender To Puree Soup

6. In praise of hand held blenders:


In my granny’s day smooth soups were achieved by mushing and sieving the cooked vegetables. No such work for today’s cook. Liquidisers or blenders do a fine job of puréeing soup, but ladeling the liquid in batches is slow, not to mind the risk of splattering hot liquid all over the place if the jug is overfilled.

My best soup-making friend is my hand-held blender. I take great satisfaction in blitzing a soup with a quick dunk of its all-powerful blades. There’s nothing like a quick whizz with a hand held blender for a perfectly textured soup. I highly recommend one of these gadgets.

Potato and Leek Soup

And so there you have it! A few good soup-making tips, to whet your appetites for some delicious soups over the coming months. As I type this blog post, a tasty chicken stock is simmering away in my crock pot. I’ll share my recipe in the next few days.

Stay tuned for plenty of stock and soup recipes in my upcoming recipe posts.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Irish cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.

Preparation can be completed ahead of time. The only step required at party time is to pop them in the oven until the cheese melts with ooey gooey goodness.

Three Potato Bites

This recipe is similar to ones for loaded baked potatoes, but rather than using a big, old Idaho potato, these scrumptious little mouthfuls call for baby red potatoes.

Boil the spuds first, scoop out the flesh, mix in some extra deliciousness, reload the skins, sprinkle with cheese, bake and here ya go!

They really are simpler than they sound.

Ingredients for cheese and mushroom potato bite appetizers

Ingredients for Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites:


  • 15 small read potatoes
  • 8 ounces of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces of butter (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • parsley to garnish

Steaming red potatoes

First step involves boiling up those potatoes. I like to steam mine. When they’re cooked I just turn off the ring and let them cool in the pot. If you boil them, once the spuds are fork tender, strain them, then leave them to cool so that you won’t burn your fingers when you scoop out the flesh.

Chopped mushroom and garlic for potato bites

Next chop up the mushrooms into fairly fine pieces. Then mince the garlic.  While the potatoes are cooling cook up the mushrooms.

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F. to pre-heat at this point.


Sauteed chopped mushrooms with garlic and thyme

Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the chopped mushrooms and garlic and cook in the butter for about 3 minutes.

Add the chopped fresh thyme leaves.

Potato shells with flesh scooped out for appetizer filling

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut each one in half. Now you want to be able to lay the potatoes on a flat surface so don’t cut them directly in the center where the potato is shortest.  Hold the spud so the pointier end is up and slice down through it. That way you’ll have a flatter surface on which to balance the potato shell.

Next scoop out the center of each potato half using a melon baller.  Put the scooped flesh into a mixing bowl. Now don’t scoop right down to the skin or your appetizers will fall apart. Leave enough flesh so the sides are well supported.

I line up the skins on a foil covered baking sheet, that I spray with a little oil.  Cheese will ooze everywhere when you cook these babies so the foil makes clean up a cinch.

Adding grated cheddar cheese to mashed potatoes

Mash all the potato flesh in the bowl, add the milk and the other half of the melted butter. 

Season with pepper and salt.  

Add about 2/3’s of the cheese, reserving the last third to sprinkle on top of the appetizers.

Mixing mushrooms and mashed potato for appetizer filling

Next add the cooked mushroom mixture and combine everything together.

Now you’re ready to reload those potato skins.


Halved cooked red potatoes with mashed potato and mushroom topping

I use my melon baller  once again, to refill the potato shells with this scrumptious mixture.

Topping potato bites with grated Irish cheddar cheese

Once they’re all loaded there’s one final step, and for me it’s the crucial step to ensure these little morsels are extra tasty.

Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of each potato bite.

I like to use Kerrygold Dubliner cheese. It is a really sharp, white cheddar, but I love the extra tang it adds to these little bites.

Bake the appetizers in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

They’re ready when they cheese has melted and is turning a light golden brown.

If you prepare these appetizers ahead of time, and keep them refrigerated prior to cooking, they’ll require the full 20 minutes, maybe longer, to heat through.

Garnishing potato bites for St. Patrick's Day party.

Once they’re cooked I like to stand them on some paper towels to absorb any excess grease.  Let them cool slightly before garnishing.

Party Appetizers - Cheese and Mushroom Potato Bites

Serve these potato bites warm as party finger food, or they also make a lovely side for chops and steaks.

I hope you like these potato appetizes as much as I do.  They’re hard to photograph well. I don’t think these shots do them justice.

Trust me the hint of thyme with the mushrooms and creamy potato filling is simply scrummy.

Wishing you all perfect parties, with plenty easy finger foods, that can be prepared ahead of time.

Here’s the printable recipe:


Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Serves 15
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Appetizer
Occasion Casual Party
Region Irish
Cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.


  • 15 Small red potatoes
  • 8oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8oz mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)


Step 1 Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender.
Step 2 Drain the potato water and let the potatoes stand until cool enough to handle.
Step 3 Melt half the butter in a large skillet. Stir in the mushrooms and minced garlic. Sautée over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the chopped fresh thyme and turn off the heat.
Step 4 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Step 5 Cut each potato in half. Scoop out the center of each potato using a melon baller, collecting the potato in a bowl. Put the potato shells to the side.
Step 6 Melt the remaining butter in the microwave for 15 seconds. Add to the potatoes with the milk. Mash together. Season to taste. Add 2/3's of the cheese and all of the mushroom mixture. Combine well together.
Step 7 Place the potato skins on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with cooking oil. Spoon equal amounts of the filling into each shell. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top of each potato.
Step 8 Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The appetizers are ready when the cheese is melted and turning a light golden brown color.
Step 9 Cool the potato bites on paper towels. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.



Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Beans On Toast – An Easy Lunchtime Staple For Irish Moms

Beans on toast featured regularly on my lunchtime menu as an Irish kid – a simple, nutritious meal I’m quite certain continues to be eaten regularly by many Irish and English children.

Beans on Toast

An American friend once asked me about Irish lunchtime menus. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the all-American, easy, lunchtime staple. No PB & J for me when I was growing up in Ireland. Even after spending over twenty years in the United States, I still don’t appreciate them.  I must confess I find it very hard to eat a peanut butter sandwich. The whole bread, jelly, and peanut butter combination is just too sticky for my Irish trained palate.

When posed with this Irish lunchtime inquiry I had to think for a minute before answering. What is the inexpensive, go-to lunch for Irish mothers? The answer I believe is beans on toast.

Now it’s not a menu item for school lunch boxes, but for midday meals served at home, beans on toast are just perfect.  In fact, beans on toast may be found on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in many Irish or English homes, especially when budgets are tight.

Should I use a singular verb after beans on toast, or the plural form?  Beans on toast ‘is’ or should I type beans on toast “are”????  Not sure what the answer is, but I hope you’ll forgive any beany grammatical errors.

An Irish Lunch - Beans on Toast

Many Americans are probably saying “what’s the deal?”  For those whose palates are trained on spicy foods this meal may seem very bland. But let’s face it, we Irish think salt and pepper are spices, so beans on toast suit us perfectly.

And into the bargain they’re cheap and easy to store. A can of beans in the pantry and you’re set.

Furthermore, beans in red sauce are one of the most inexpensive forms of protein available to a busy mom, and preparation is a snap. (That “furthermore” is really making me sound like a bean aficionado.)

Here are my cooking instructions:

  • Heat some beans in a saucepan.
  • Toast a slice of bread.
  • Butter the toast if you wish.
  • Then pile the beans and sauce on top.

Some beans on toast connoisseurs forego the butter, but I find a slice of thick white toast spread with Kerrygold butter is a perfect bean base.  The salty butter adds a lovely complimentary flavor to the beans.

Fried Egg with Beans on Toast

To beef the beans up for dinner, a poached or fried egg can be served right on top. I suppose beefing them up is the wrong word when using an egg, but you know what I mean.

I hope you like how over cooked that fried egg is by American standards, but that’s how they turn out when fried Irish style. No sunny sides up or over easys for an Irish cook.

Another option is to top them off with a slice of grilled or fried tomato, and two slices of bacon or rashers as we say in Ireland. Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

I knew someone who liked to spread Marmite on their toast, before topping it off with beans. Marmite is a dark brown, salty, savory spread made from yeast extract. Not for me, but everyone adds their own little touches to make their beans on toast special.

Finely diced onion can be caramelized in a pan before adding the beans for heating. A dash of Worcestershire sauce and mustard kick the flavor up a notch.  I suppose these steps bring the beans a little closer to American BBQ beans.

A slice of cheese, grilled to melting point on the toast, is delicious hidden beneath the beans. My mouth is now watering thinking about bland old beans on toast.

As children we loved to drink a cold glass of milk with our beans, but as I grew older I replaced the milk with a nice cup of hot tea with a little dash of milk. Again, most Americans are probably aghast at this menu combination. But the plain old fact is, I have Irish taste buds.

English Lunch - Beans on Toast

Here in America I buy vegetarian beans. No pork and beans in this house. I’m not fond of a piece of  pork rind floating in my beans as they heat. A can of vegetarian beans reminds me of Irish beans the most.  Luckily, my local supermarket stocks Heinz vegetarian beans.

The brand of choice when I was growing up in Ireland was Bachelor’s beans. Their advertising logo consisted of two little men singing to their hearts’ content:

“Bachelors! Bachelors!”


Anyone remember them?


I’d say there were, and probably still are, many Irish bachelors whose cooking repertoires consist of beans on toast; no more; no less.  The after affects of said beans may be one of the reasons for the aforementioned state of  bachelorhood.     :)

Wishing you all happy and easy lunchtimes.



Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom