A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big, BIG everything else: flavor, ideas, holy-cow 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.
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?
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.
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.
Serves about 9 cups
pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
pound celery, chopped into 1-inch chunks
pound yellow onions, halved, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
tablespoons canola oil, divided
teaspoons kosher salt, divided
cup mellow white miso, divided
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What are some of your favorite fall or winter soups? Share in the comments!