Soffritto is the base of many Italian dishes, especially in Tuscany. It goes even in dishes where you wouldn’t expect it. You don’t see it, but it raises the flavours to another level, a better level. It’s so simple, yet so powerful.
A good Italian housewife ALWAYS has in her pantry onions, carrots and celery. Here are a few examples of recipe using soffritto as a base:
- Chickpea Potato Soup
- Tuscan Ragù Sauce
- Red Wine Venison Stew
- Ricotta Gnocchi with meatless Bolognese sauce
You know the importance of a good flavored oil base. Most recipes in the world start with a sauté of onions or garlic (or both). This is done to infuse the oil with flavours which will then coat the rest of the ingredients.
In Italy we decided that it was not enough, so we added carrot and celery. The carrot adds the sweetness and the celery the aroma. All 3 together they become one, with a new incredible flavour that goes well with anything.
It’s not a coincidence that these 3 ingredients are also the main ingredients for vegetable stock. What we do practically is instead of infusing water with onions, carrots and celery to make the stock, we put them finely chopped directly in the pot with the other ingredients so we have a concentrated stock flavour. We basically cut the corners.
Other Countries use a similar mix of vegetables as a base. France have the more famous Mirepoix which is exactly the same as Soffritto, except in the Creole cuisine which uses the bell pepper instead of the carrot. Spain has Sofrito which has onions, garlic and tomatoes. Also in Italy there are different versions, like Battuto which uses lard, onions, celery and parsley (although you could really find a 1000 different versions, depending on the region and family heritage).
About Soffritto (Mirepoix)
The guidelines of French cuisine dictate that the good ration would be 2:1:1 of onion, carrots and celery. Which means 2 parts of onions, 1 part of carrots and 1 part of celery. Although I usally use the ratio 1:1:1 to make a large batch because in some recipes I add the extra onion from fresh.
Another rule would be to finely dice the vegetables (brunoise) which literally takes hours to do if you’re doing a large batch as in this recipe. Brunoise is beautiful to see and good to do if you’re doing Soffritto only for a single recipe, but I suggest you to avoid it if your’e preparing soffritto in large batches. So the best and fastest way to do it is by blending the vegetables to a fine cut (not to a paste). This way the vegetables will soften nicely, infusing the dish with all their flavour and they will mostly disappear so you don’t see them but still taste them (I personally don’t like chunks of carrots and celery in the Ragù for example).
- 300g (10 oz) White or Yellow Onions
- 300g (10 oz) Carrots
- 300g (10 oz) Celery stalks
Peel the onions and carrots and clean the celery, trimming the edges.
Roughly chop the vegetables and add them in the blender, pulsing a few times until you have finely chopped veggies. Be careful not to blend them into a paste.
Fill a muffin tray or ice cube tray with the mixed vegetables, pressing well. Freeze overnight.
Remove the blocks of Soffritto from the trays and place them in a freezer bag, ready to use!
They will last in the freezer for 8 to 10 months.
When you need them, put the block in cold oil and let them soften at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
TIP: It’s better if you use a silicone form so it will be easier to remove the frozen blocks. See some examples here (affiliate links):