November 15, 2012

Caramelized Carrot Soup – No Centrifuge Necessary!

The Caramelized Carrot Soup recipe from Modernist Cuisine is not only a favorite of ours, but is also the most popular among readers for its silky, sweet, intense carrot flavor. We knew we had to include it in Modernist Cuisine at Home, but first we had to make a few adjustments because the original recipe used a centrifuge. So we simplified it by using simmered, strained carrot juice and refrigeration to get the carotene butter to congeal and separate.

The recipe still works because it’s the pressure-cooking that really allows the flavors of this soup to flourish. The flavors are a combination of caramelization and the Maillard reaction (what people commonly call “browning”), which produces a rich, caramelized, nutty flavor. Pressure cookers are particularly suited for promoting the Maillard reaction because elevated temperatures encourage foods to develop their characteristic flavors far more quickly than conventional cooking methods (such as roasting) do, thereby transforming a long process into a short 20-minute cook time. Adding 0.5% baking soda when pressure-cooking further speeds flavor reactions by producing an alkaline pH of about 7.5.

By using this technique, the carrot flavor is further heightened because no heavy cream is needed. It’s just carrots, carrot juice, and butter. It is so delicious that you can only taste two things: the pure intense essence of the carrots, and a warm undertone of caramel flavor.

I like to serve it with a combination of coconut foam, fried curry leaf, glazed carrots in carotene butter, and chaat masala. I usually serve it warm, but it can be served cold too.

Simply put, this recipe is delicious, rich, silky, simple, convenient, and efficient.

Anjana Shanker, Development Chef

Pouring Carrot Soup

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Mis en Place for Caramelized Carrot Soup

Caremelized Carrot Soup Step 1

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Caramelized Carrot Soup Step 11

Caramelized Carrot Soup, Modernist Cuisine at Home

Caramelized Carrot Soup Served with Carrots, Tarragon, and Young Coconut

Additional Tips

  • Make sure to core your carrots. The soup will be sweeter because the cores tend to carry a bitter aftertaste.
  • Melt the butter in the pressure cooker before adding the carrots. When you add the carrots, stir them until fully coated with butter. This will prevent burning.
  • We like to give the pressure cooker a shake every now and then to prevent the carrots from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Do not leave out the baking soda because it helps to facilitate the Maillard reaction (this is the technical name for what we commonly call "browning") by creating an alkaline environment (about 7.5 pH) normally not found in pressure cookers (due to the wetness).
  • Vegetables are made up of cells with strong walls that soften at higher temperatures than the cells in meat do. But because they are made up of mostly water, their temperatures normally won't exceed the boiling point of water. The high heat of the pressure cooker (around 120 °C / 250 °F, which is hotter than the boiling point of water) also helps to thoroughly caramelize the carrots without drying them out.
  • Because the air is sealed inside the pressure cooker, you don't need to add much water, so juices can be extracted without becoming diluted. We've found that the melted butter and 30 g of water are all you need.
  • When simmering the carrot juice, do so until the layers separate (a lighter orange layer will float to the top).
  • To make carotene butter, bring 450 g (about 450 mL / 2 cups) of carrot juice to a simmer. Using an immersion blender, blend the same amount of unsalted butter with the carrot juice. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. Remove the mixture from the stove and blend in an additional 250 g of carrot juice (about 250 mL / 1 cup). Let the mixture cool, and then refrigerate it overnight. Once congealed, scoop the butterfat into a pot and warm it until melted. Strain the melted butter through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. Pour the strained carotene butter into half-sphere molds to set. The carotene butter will keep for two weeks when refrigerated, or up to six months when frozen.
  • Regular unsalted butter can be substituted for the carotene butter.
  • Run the pureed soup through a fine sieve before serving for a smooth, consistent texture.
  • There are many ways to top off this dish. We like to serve it with a little coconut milk and fresh tarragon, or shredded young coconut and ajowan seeds (which you can find in Indian grocery stores, but make sure to get the ones for cooking, not those used for making tea). We've also paired it with chaat masala (see page 136 of Modernist Cuisine at Home) and our Coconut Chutney Foam (see page 4·282 of Modernist Cuisine).
  • This method works for a variety of vegetables. In Modernist Cuisine at Home, we have recipes using vegetables such as squash, artichokes, mushrooms, cauliflower, red bell peppers, and corn. We also have recipes for delectable combinations such as broccoli and Gruyère, apples and parsnips, and leeks and onions. We even have a variation that uses bananas!
  • To see a video of this recipe, click here.
  • For the original recipe that first appeared in Modernist Cuisine, visit our recipe library.

Previous recipe


  1. SingKevin December 28, 2012 Reply

    This is absolutely delicious, although I almost prefer not to core the carrots as the soup is almost too sweet as above.

  2. Caroline December 31, 2012 Reply

    Sounds amazing but way too complex. May give it a try anyway.

  3. DanielF January 3, 2013 Reply

    We made this soup as the first course in our New Year’s Eve dinner and it was absolutely fantastic! Very easy to do, and the result really is something special.

  4. dlynch January 3, 2013 Reply

    This was our Christmas dinner starter — the maiden voyage for my new pressure cooker. I used regular butter and garnished it with a deep-fried sage leaf. My sister said she was dreaming of it days later! It really was no effort at all — especially compared to the awesomeness of the result!

  5. Charles January 4, 2013 Reply

    Made the carotene butter recipe last night, but the butter did not congeal in the refrigerator overnight as expected. It is still in emulsion. Any suggestions?

    • Tom March 9, 2013 Reply

      I had the same problem. I think my issue is that after 90 minutes of simmering the mixture was extreamly thick, and using an immersion blender at the end basicly made it all foam.

  6. Chesterfield January 5, 2013 Reply

    The first time I caramelized the carrots, they burned. The second time around I cooked them at the lowest temperature that gave me the pressure I needed, and I regularly shook the pot to keep them from sticking to the bottom. They came out perfect.

    Any thoughts on how to make this work for rutabagas? Juicing and caramelizing them seems straightforward enough.


    • Judy January 7, 2013 Reply

      Hi Chersterfield,

      We have several variations of this recipe in Modernist Cuisine at Home, but none of them involve rutabegas. That certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t use them though! Some of our variations use liquids other than juice that you might want to try. For example, some variations use stock.

      Let us know how it turns out!


  7. andy January 9, 2013 Reply

    Hi Judy
    thanks for this great recipe, does the size of the pressure cooker have much of an effect on the amount of liquid required. I have a 12 litre and 30g of water doesn’t seem like much.
    Many thanks

  8. Kurt January 10, 2013 Reply

    hi, I have “modernist cuisine at home” and I saw all of the other vegetables I can use, like artichokes. But what I was wondering is if I could use broccoli? I wanted to make a broccoli Apple soup, and I wanted to know if it would caramelized. Also I saw another recipe online for apple soup which calls for curry, I wanted to know if adding the curry would prevent the caramelization or affect it in any way. Be as scientific in your explanation as you want, as I am interested in learning! Thank you!

    • Judy January 11, 2013 Reply

      Hi Kurt,

      As you may have seen, there is a variation for a broccoli-Gruyère soup, so yes, this will work with broccoli.

    • Sam Fahey-Burke January 29, 2013 Reply

      I recommend adding the curry after you’ve blended the soup. That way the spice stays nice and fresh until the last minute.

  9. Peter Kransz January 31, 2013 Reply

    I have tried both the mushroom and cauliflower soups and both turned out wonderfully. I was wondering if it is possible to do tomatoes? Wasn’t sure if the amount of liquid and acidity in them would throw everything off.

  10. Debbievargo April 8, 2013 Reply

    I have made this soup 3 times now and each time it turned out perfectly. We served some as an appetizer in tall shot glasses and others as a soup course in china tea cups. Also made the variation of parsnips and honey crisp apples. Luscious as well and frankly did not add any extra butter for serving that soup. Planning to give a go with celery root. Ideas?

    • Anjana Shanker April 9, 2013 Reply

      Yes, I have tested pressure-caramelized celery root. It’s pretty good! The cook time is still 20 minutes. If you want to make a soup, try adding apples (similar to the parsnip and apple soup). For a mash, add garlic and potatoes.


  11. whut April 11, 2013 Reply

    Tried this and result tasted like…. butter… After looking up results online I noticed the original ver in the non @home version uses quite a bit less butter, why the increase?

    To be specific the result tasted like incredibly heavily buttered somewhat sweet but rather salty butter. I used unsalted butter and had 5g of salt for the 500g of cut carrots as specified, is this the intended result or did my attempt go wrong?

  12. whut April 11, 2013 Reply

    Ack, as a result of partial editing the second paragraph of my above comment came out wrong. Had meant to describe the result as tasting like heavily buttered somewhat sweet but rather salty popcorn.

  13. Matt April 16, 2013 Reply

    You mentioned a bunch of other vegetables this works with, but the one I’m wondering about is onions. I would love to have a quick, easy way to caramelize onions. Right now, the best method that I know of uses a slow cooker, but that takes hours.

    • Judy April 19, 2013 Reply

      Yes! We pressure cook them for 40 minutes, use less butter than in the recipe above, and also place them in canning jars on a trivet in the pressure cooker. We then simmer them for a few more minutes. The recipe is on page 127 of Modernist Cuisine at Home.

  14. Franklin May 24, 2013 Reply

    I just made the corn variation of this and even after diluting with equal amounts of unsalted corn stock (also from MCAH), it was still so salty as to be inedible. Since I was scaling up by about double, I re-checked my measurements before adding the salt so I’m 99% sure it wasn’t a conversion error.

    I’m planning to try this again with a small fraction of the salt and then add seasoning at the end to taste. Does anyone know if there is anything critical to the pressure cooking process that requires so much salt, or will a little salt plus the baking soda and water be sufficient? Also, if possible I’d like a brighter color from the soup. Does anyone know if I leave out the baking soda will that lessen the carmelization which darkens the corn a bit? And will that have much affect on flavor? Thanks in advance for any insights.

  15. Gloss Bourassa June 12, 2013 Reply

    Lovely recipe thank you. We’re making it this weekend with carrots from the garden, can’t wait.

  16. Evaldo Garcia September 2, 2013 Reply

    I made an adaptation of this dish, where I roasted the carrots in the oven on clarified butter and turned the cores and the peels into carrot juice in my juicer. Amazing flavor.

  17. Bethanie September 4, 2013 Reply

    I’ve made this several times and each time it gets rave reviews. I almost feel like it’s cheating since it’s one of the easier recipes in the book!!

  18. karmarepair December 26, 2013 Reply

    I entered this into a calculator to get the nutritional information, and this is what comes of it:
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 259.3
    Total Fat 21.0 g
    Saturated Fat 12.9 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
    Monounsaturated Fat 6.0 g
    Cholesterol 55.8 mg
    Sodium 413.9 mg
    Potassium 582.1 mg
    Total Carbohydrate 17.8 g
    Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
    Sugars 8.0 g
    Protein 2.0 g
    Vitamin A 620.9 %
    Vitamin B-12 0.6 %
    Vitamin B-6 17.3
    Vitamin C 23.2 %
    Vitamin D 0.0 %
    Vitamin E 4.0 %
    Calcium 5.9 %
    Copper 4.6 %
    Folate 5.2 %
    Iron 4.3 %
    Magnesium 6.3 %
    Manganese 13.0 %
    Niacin 6.2 %
    Pantothenic Acid 5.0 %
    Phosphorus 7.9 %
    Riboflavin 6.8 %
    Selenium 1.4 %
    Thiamin 10.2 %
    Zinc 2.7 %

  19. Rick Schrager September 12, 2014 Reply

    Very nice. Deeply complex flavors that I did not think could come from carrots and as rich as any soup made with heavy cream. I do think the 1 1/4 tsp of salt was a little too much after tasting the purée but maybe that’s just me. I’ll use a little less next time.

    I served this will dollop of freshly made marscarpone, chives and sprinkling of cumin seeds. Heavenly!

  20. philabeemer September 18, 2014 Reply

    I just made the broccoli gruyere soup and it turned out good, if a little salty. I think the salt came from the cheese, but I would eliminate the salt that is added to the carrot version of the soup the next time I make it. The only watch out is to shake the pressure cooker frequently as I ended up with a lot of slightly burnt cheese on the bottom.

  21. Duncan October 29, 2015 Reply

    I make this soup at least once a month, it’s fantastic. I’ve tried other variations and this is still my favourite so far.

    I am however looking to decrease the butter content and in particular the cholesterol levels.

    With this in mind I am about to try using some organic virgin coconut oil instead of butter. I am also going to add a little ginger to the mix. I’ll report back with the results!

    • Caren October 29, 2015 Reply

      We’re so glad that our soup has become a go-to recipe for you! Can’t wait to hear about the experiment, Duncan!

      • Duncan October 29, 2015 Reply

        Hi Caren, it was a success, although it doesn’t quite have the same depth of flavour. I may try it again soon with a mixture of butter and the coconut oil. I did forget to add the ginger though so will try that another time too.

        • Caren November 10, 2015 Reply

          Thanks for the update! Feel free to keep us posted as you continue to experiment. We always love hearing how people make our recipes their own.

  22. Francois March 12, 2016 Reply

    Stopped the purée stage but forgot to realise that the quantities were based on making the soup: doubling the volume with essentially a ‘neutral’ liquid. This means that both the butter and salt quantities are correct for the soup, but not for the purée: I will reduce both by about 50% next time.

    Result was incredibly tasty though and is a ‘sampler’ purée on the side of the plate, not something you can consume large quantities of.

  23. Stan May 13, 2016 Reply

    I cannot figure out if this has been asked anywhere. But I was interested in finding out if the 500g of carrots is pre or post coring It mentions it is optional and I am assuming if you were to core the carrots after weighing out the 500g you would lose about a fifth or so of the weight yielding around 400g of carrots for the final recipe. Or should I assume the 500g is post coring so you use 500g of cored carrots or 500g of un-cored carrots depending on personal preference.

  24. Tony July 7, 2018 Reply

    Surprising flavor for sure but too (sickly) sweet for my palate, I will try to mix in other vegetables, perhaps celery as mentioned above might do the trick, I may also reduce the ratio caramelized to fresh carrot juice. Still, it’s like magic:)

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