Sofrito and the Aromatics

Sofrito and the Aromatics? Is this an ancient Greek boy band? I love the image, but no.


Every good building has a strong foundation, right? A sofrito is the foundation of flavor in many Italian soups and sauces. The aromatic vegetables and herbs provide a sweet and savory essence to be built upon. So once you make the sofrito, you can add the other ingredients right on top.

Simple sofrito

4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley (alternatively, use thyme, basil, or oregano)

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the vegetables and herbs. Saute uncovered for 5 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Keep the heat high enough to hear the vegetables sizzle, but be careful not to burn them. Add a bit of water as needed. Remove from heat or use immediately as a soup or sauce base. or here in a ragu for a vegetarian lasagne dish.

Congratulations, you have made a delicious foundation for any soup, stew, or sauce. You can either use the sofrito right away or refrigerate for later.

As with many dishes, techniques, and recipes, ingredients can vary, but the technique of using aromatic vegetables and herbs as a flavor base is found in many cuisines: the French call it mirepoix, the Spanish call it sofrito, and in Cajun and Creole cooking it is known as The Holy Trinity. 
I am so thrilled that I learned this technique. It makes me feel like an Italian chef, and the flavors are so satisfying! I love experimenting by adding other aromatics such as parsley, leeks, garlic, sweet pepper, paprika, basil, and other fresh herbs. There are many possible combinations; as long as you have some olive oil and an onion, you’re off to a good start. I promise this simple procedure will add much more flavor and umami to your Italian cooking.

Photo Dec 02, 4 01 36 PM
Make a tomato sauce for fresh pasta! Now you are talking.

Here is one of my favorite tomato sauce recipes. Use this to practice your sofrito! It goes great on fresh or packaged pasta.
Or use the sofrito as a base for this Italian Ribollita vegetable soup!

Enjoy! Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this technique. Is this new to you or do you already use aromatics in cooking? If so, what are your favorites?

11 thoughts

  1. Yes I have done this cooking of carrot, onions and celery together. I think a patient, who was a great cook, told me about it. I like the slow cooking to carmalize. Good to know about cooking for a shorter amount of time for soups.

Your comments are always welcome!