Carrot miso soup is creamy, comforting, and ideal for winter. Finish it off with a swirl of cilantro cream.
If I’ve learned anything about food over the past nine years, it’s that people don’t want to be chastised for their choices. Yes, I embrace local farmers and artisan purveyors. Yes, I like to make my own preserves and can tomatoes. Sometimes dinner is stuffed chicken thighs with glazed Brussels sprouts, and sometimes it’s macaroni and cheese made with powder.
Providing meals for my family is — mostly — an experience in comfort, in giving of my few talents to the people I love. Still, sometimes getting dinner on the table is a chore. And for those who outright dislike cooking, it can be a daunting task that must be tackled regardless, because family is a-waiting.
Hating cooking doesn’t mean you don’t want that contented feeling that comes from food, and in fact it sometimes means you crave it even more.
One of the reasons chain restaurants exist is because they provide a comforting, expected experience. I don’t believe anyone thinks Olive Garden is authentic Italian fare, but it has a place among us for many purposes. The fact I can feed my two kids without tears (from any involved party) is one of mine.
In a perfect world we would all get our food from farmers we know, or even our own backyards, and neighbors would reach across fences to share the bounty. But we know steadily more and more it is not a perfect world, and sometimes we must make compromises to ensure meals actually happen.
We live in a supposedly compassionate nation, and yet our capacity for judgment appears to be greater than our capacity for, well, anything else. (And I’m not removing myself from that situation; just put a drink in my hand and see.) I do firmly believe we’re mostly just trying to do the best we can with what we have, and the dinner table happens to be one of the places where this so visibly plays out.
It is important to me that people eat well (especially children, because we’re setting up life lessons there), but in my opinion any meal you manage to share with you family or loved ones is a win.
This soup is one of those recipes that is comforting just in the making of it. All soup is kind of like that, in my opinion. Chopping vegetables isn’t the most fun, but it’s methodical and thoughtful. Simmering ingredients, especially as the aroma hits your nose, calms me, even if I had to force myself to make dinner instead of dialing it in.
Similar to my roasted carrot and fennel soup, this is a rather basic soup. It’s lifted in flavor by the addition of white miso paste. Miso is fairly easy to find these days — look for it in the refrigerated section — but if you can’t, this is a fine soup seasoned with just salt and pepper.
Carrot Miso Soup with Cilantro Cream
- 1 pound carrots
- 1/2 pound sweet potato
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2-4 tablespoons white miso paste to taste
For the sauce (optional)
- 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Trim and halve lengthwise carrots and cut into chunks. Cut sweet potato into medium-size chunks. (You don't have to peel either if you prefer.) Toss with 1 tablespoon sweet potato and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.
In a large stockpot, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and sauté 5 minutes. Add the carrots and sweet potato.
Stir in broth and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (or blend in batches with a food processor or blender) to purée soup smooth.
Whisk in miso to taste and keep warm while making the sauce.
In a blender or food processor, purée cilantro, garlic, cream, and water until smooth. Add more water if needed to achieve a pourable, yet still thick, consistency.
Serve soup with sauce spooned over the top.