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 flavors to another level, a better level. It's so simple, yet so powerful.
A good Italian cook ALWAYS has in her pantry onions, carrots, and celery. Here are a few examples of the recipe using soffritto as a base:
- Chickpea Potato Soup
- Tuscan Ragù Sauce
- Red Wine Venison Stew
- Ricotta Gnocchi with meatless Bolognese sauce
But now you don't need to have these vegetables always ready in your fridge. You can simply prepare a big batch of Soffritto and then freeze it in small single portions ready to use whenever you need it!
What is Soffritto or Mirepoix
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 flavors 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 become one, with a new incredible flavor 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 flavor.
Other Countries use a similar mix of vegetables as a base. France has 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 1000 different versions, depending on the region and family heritage).
How to make Soffritto / Mirepoix
The guidelines of French cuisine dictate that the good ratio 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 usually 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 avoid it if you're 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 flavor 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).
Roughly chop the vegetables and add them to a large food processor (1), pulse until the vegetables are finely minced (2). With a spoon, fill the silicon molds and press well to remove as much air as possible (3-4). Freeze for 24 hours, then remove the soffritto blocks from the molds and transfer to freezer bags (5-6).
You can freeze the Soffritto / Mirepoix portions for up to 6 months.
You can either thaw the portion overnight in the fridge or quickly in the microwave. Drain as much water as possible before adding the soffrito to the pan. Another option is to add the frozen block directly in the cold pan and slowly turn up the heat until the ice is melted and the veggies start cooking.
Of course you could finely chop the vegetables by hand or even grate them with a rasp or a mandoline.
- 10 oz White or Yellow Onions
- 10 oz Carrots
- 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 food processor, pulsing a few times until you have finely shredded 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!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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):
Can we please change “good Italian housewife” to good Italian cook?
Hi Marian, I didn't mean it in a bad way, but you're right, 'cook' sounds better!