© 2017, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature. Soil organic carbon (SOC) can be defined by measurable chemical and physical pools, such as mineral-associated carbon, carbon physically entrapped in aggregates, dissolved carbon, and fragments of plant detritus. Yet, most soil models use conceptual rather than measurable SOC pools. What would the traditional pool-based soil model look like if it were built today, reflecting the latest understanding of biological, chemical, and physical transformations in soils? We propose a conceptual model—the Millennial model—that defines pools as measurable entities. First, we discuss relevant pool definitions conceptually and in terms of the measurements that can be used to quantify pool size, formation, and destabilization. Then, we develop a numerical model following the Millennial model conceptual framework to evaluate against the Century model, a widely-used standard for estimating SOC stocks across space and through time. The Millennial model predicts qualitatively similar changes in total SOC in response to single factor perturbations when compared to Century, but different responses to multiple factor perturbations. We review important conceptual and behavioral differences between the Millennial and Century modeling approaches, and the field and lab measurements needed to constrain parameter values. We propose the Millennial model as a simple but comprehensive framework to model SOC pools and guide measurements for further model development.