How to Make Flavor Bases, Mirepoix, Sofrito and More: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow our guide to giving your sauces and stews a flavorful head start, then watch our how-to video.

Category:
Sauteing

Flavor bases can provide a world of flavor to your recipes. Different cuisines use slight variations on the idea of chopped aromatics and vegetables to create a foundation for other recipes. Learn about a few of them here.

French Mirepoix
The French flavor base called mirepoix is a combination of onion, carrot and celery generally cut to the same size. It's used in a ratio that's 2 parts onion to 1 part celery and carrot.

Saute in Butter
Mirepoix is the start of many French dishes, such as coq au vin and lamb stew. It's generally gently sauteed in butter so it cooks without browning.

The Holy Trinity
In Cajun cooking, the combination of 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery and 1 part bell pepper is known as the "holy trinity."

Saute the "Holy Trinity"
The vegetables are sauteed in butter, oil or bacon fat, and the results are used in gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya.

In Latin Cuisine: Sofrito
Latin cuisines include sofrito in their repertoires; it's a puree of onions, peppers, cilantro and garlic.

Chopping the Sofrito
It can be chopped by hand or in a food processor.

Cooking the Sofrito
This sofrito is cooked in oil until the flavors come together and the mixture is aromatic and a tight paste, about 15 minutes. It's perfect for one-pot chicken stews, sauteed ground meats and soups. Tip: Freeze cooked sofrito in ice cube trays for quicker meal preparation.

In Italian Cooking: Sofrito
In Italy, the sofrito is just like a French mirepoix, except you can also add fennel, garlic and parsley. It can be diced small or pureed in a food processor.

Add Olive Oil to a Pan
Start with olive oil, rendered pancetta or other meat drippings in a pan.

Saute the Sofrito
Italians cook this base two ways, either lightly sauteed until soft or until deep brown and full of sweet, rich flavor. A recipe will tell you which way to make it. It adds depth to braises and soups, like minestrone. Watch our how-to video for more.