Creamy Carrot Soup in 4 Ingredients (Cream Isn’t One of Them)

September 25, 2018

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big, BIG everything else: flavor, ideas, wow factor. Psst: We don't count water, salt, pepper, and certain fats (say, olive oil to dress greens or sauté onions), since we're guessing you have those covered. This week, we’re burning carrots—sort of on purpose—to make fall’s new favorite soup.

Mirepoix is a trio of vegetables as special to French cooking as butter. Classically, it involves 2 parts onion to 1 part each carrot and celery. You chop them, cook them, and end up with a very flavorful foundation for something like soup.

Except in this recipe, the mirepoix is the soup.

Well, more or less. I wanted to make an easy, creamy carrot soup, to store in my freezer from now until spring. So I started with a mirepoix. Only, flipped the ratio: 2 parts carrots to 1 part each onion and celery. And then I burned the vegetables.

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Top Comment:
“I made this soup over two days. It’s a lot of work. You really need a food processor. The blender takes forever. The flavor is just ok. Will not be making again.”
— patty

Between you and me, this wasn’t on purpose. While a lot of mirepoix-based soups take place on the stove, I didn’t want to stand over the stove as much as I wanted to binge-watch the fifth season of The Great British Bake-Off on Netflix. Is that too much to ask?

Photo by Ty Mecham

Enter: oven. We’ve used this method to make soup before. It’s as easy as it is riffable. Roast vegetables in the oven, then puree in a blender with some sort of liquid. That’s it. So I thought I’d give it a try.

I cranked up the oven to 425°F in the hopes of ultra-caramelized edges. Checked at 20 minutes, but it needed more time. I checked again at 40, but it wasn’t quite where I wanted it. Then I checked at an hour, and oops. One could call the edges ultra-caramelized, but one would be, you know, lying. They were charred.

But I was 90 percent of the way there, I figured, so I might as well finish the soup. I’d hate it and then I’d throw it out and start again. No biggie. This is why we develop recipes, is it not? I added the vegetables to the blender with water and my magical fourth ingredient and—a soup miracle!—it was wonderful. Like, eating-straight-out-of-the-blender wonderful.

Photo by Ty Mecham

But you’re probably wondering about that magic fourth ingredient.

It’s miso. Buttery, mellow white miso. I’ve been known to eat this brand out of the container with a spoon (judge me not), but whatever you can find will work well.

It’s the amount that’s a game changer here: 1/4 cup. Which, admittedly, is a lot of miso for one batch of soup that, originally, had nothing to do with miso. But, like those charred edges, the miso adds a depth that you wouldn’t expect when looking at a bowl of unassuming carrot soup.

Or, whatever-vegetable soup. This formula is so easy and riffable, I’m going to keep it on repeat all fall and winter long, swapping out carrots and swapping in...parsnips? Sure thing. Rutabagas? Yes please. Sweet potatoes? Get at me. Just keep the ratio the same (2 root veg: 1 onion: 1 celery)—and don’t forget to burn the vegetables. You know, on purpose.

What are some of your favorite fall or winter soups? Share in the comments!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Lilly March 16, 2022
Made this a few times very good really enjoyed it. Easy to make
patty January 20, 2019
I made this soup over two days. It’s a lot of work. You really need a food processor. The blender takes forever. The flavor is just ok. Will not be making again.
FrugalCat November 13, 2018
I made it and then topped it with swirls of sour cream! This is a great winter soup and a nice change from my standby carrot-ginger-potato.
Stephen October 21, 2018
Where the hell are you supposed to get mellow white miso from. I know for absolutely sure that this is not available in any supermarkets in the UK, not have I seen it in any shops in the UK. I hate recipes like this which contains at least one obscure or stupid ingredient
Envyous October 23, 2018
Oh my gosh. Calm down and go to this site, or Amazon. Miso does not need refrigeration while shipping. Or look at other comments where the author says you can sub soy sauce. I’d think you could find soy sauce or tamari in the U.K.
Tom N. October 20, 2018
I just don't understand why people who "know stuff' about food, keep promoting canola oil when there is SO much information out there as to how unhealthy it is?
LULULAND October 20, 2018
I agree, I do fry with it. But that's occasionally. I use grapeseed oil or olive oil. I have even used olive oil in cakes, wonderful!
Valerie January 13, 2019
Why would you even fry with it?
LULULAND October 19, 2018
Can I leave out the miso, and add something else instead? thanks
Emma L. October 19, 2018
Hi! You can leave the miso out and add some soy sauce instead—I'd start with 1 to 2 tablespoons, then add more to taste.
LULULAND October 19, 2018
Thank you, I don't know why I didn't think of that!
lawebs October 8, 2018
Do you think my red miso would be too strong, or ok due to sweetness of the carrots?
Emma L. October 10, 2018
I say go for it! You could even start with a smaller quantity and add more to taste.
Sandra October 4, 2018
Thank you Emma!
Sandra October 4, 2018
Unfortunately Canola oil has a bad reputation, what other oil would you suggest?
Emma L. October 4, 2018
Hi Sandra, any neutral oil with a high smoke point will work!
Syl October 2, 2018
Carrots are so good for your eyes...I notice a difference if I don’ have a supply of lightly steamed organic carrots stored in pickle juice, I also dipped in honey for a sweet snack 😛👍
Noreen F. September 26, 2018
I had a carrot paprika curry soup at Czarnuscka Soup Bar in Ephraim, WI last Saturday that was so delicious I have to try to recreate it. I'm stealing this tip for the soup base.
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Yum! Love the idea of adding paprika.