How to Make Mirepoix
Curious how to make the perfect mirepoix for your soups and stews? Learn exactly goes into a basic mirepoix, tips for how to cook it and store it, plus variations for new flavors!
What is Mirepoix?
Mirepoix (pronounced MEE-reh-pwah) is that amazing flavor and aroma at the heart of your favorite soups and stews. This is the base that makes your home smell amazing when you have just started cooking that will have everyone asking what you are making. Mirepoix is a French term for chopped vegetables that are cooked down to add flavor to a dish.
The basic mirepoix is usually onions, carrots, and celery. This is a simple combination that you’ll find in most amazing soup recipes that helps to give it the scent and flavor you love. You can of course use any aromatic vegetables to add a deep and fragrant flavor. Different cultures often add different additions like garlic, parsnips, ginger, leaks, and nearly any aromatic vegetable you can think of.
What is the Basic Formula for Mirepoix?
The basic Mirepoix that is a staple of French cooking is a mix of 2 parts onions, 1 part carrots, and 1 part celery. This formula will give you that classic flavor. When choosing your vegetable combination you want to go heavy on the onions as they give the most flavor and aroma to the dish.
How to Make a Simple Mirepoix
Start by cutting your vegetables. This can be done in two ways, by hand or using a food processor. Both options work well. The important thing is to cut the vegetables into a uniform size, so everything cooks at the same rate.
Chopping by hand – Since you want your vegetables to be as uniform as possible, cutting by hand is the most accurate option. Simply dice the vegetables into even chunks. This is the only way to go for things like a chunky soup where you really want the bigger pieces. Use a sharp knife for the best results.
Chopping with a food processor – A food processor will give you a much finer chop, more of a mince. This can overcook very easily so you will want to be very careful and keep the temperature of your pan very low. Use the pulse setting on your food processor and watch it closely to prevent over chopping and blending your mirepoix.
After you have chopped your vegetables, melt butter or warm olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add in your vegetables and stir constantly. The goal here is to cause the vegetables to sweat and release their aroma and flavor. This will sweeten them a bit as well, but you should avoid caramelizing your vegetables while cooking. Stir frequently and turn down the heat if you notice the vegetables starting to brown. If you overcook them and cause caramelizing, don’t worry- it’s not ruined. But you will give your mirepoix a slightly nutty flavor.
To encourage more sweating, you can place a lid over your pot on low heat, removing it to stir often. This process should take 10 to 12 minutes. When your mirepoix is ready the vegetables will be soft and the onions will be slightly translucent but no browning will be visible. If your vegetables start to brown before the onions are translucent you have your heat too high.
What Size Should the Vegetables be in a Mirepoix?
For sautéed dishes, you want to keep them very small at about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. For most soups and stews, it’s best to keep the vegetables to around 1/2 inch. If you plan to blend the soup you can use larger chunks, but keep in mind it will take longer for them to soften.
Can You Freeze Mirepoix?
Storing your mirepoix is easy. You can keep it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days in an air-tight container. If you want to make it further ahead you can opt to freeze it. You may want to freeze it in portions, so you can get exactly what you need. You can flash freeze by laying in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet then break it apart and place it into an air-tight container in the freezer. This will allow you to grab just the amount you need when you are cooking. Alternatively, you can opt to freeze it in portions that you can use when you are cooking, as needed.
When cooking with frozen mirepoix it is best to go right from the freezer to cooking in your pan, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. This is because onions and celery can get mushy if they’re thawed slowly. When using frozen vegetables, cook them directly from frozen. This will give you the best texture.
If you accidentally thaw your mirepoix, you should stick to dishes that will involve blending them, so that the soft texture won’t affect the overall dish in the end but you can still take advantage of the rich flavor and aroma.
Other Types of Mirepoix
French isn’t the only style of cooking you will find mirepoix. In fact, most types of cooking have a style that uses aromatic vegetables and herbs to help bring out the flavor in a dish. Each of these has a name for its own style.
Cajun and Creole styles of cooking use a mirepoix that consists of what they refer to as the “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and green bell pepper. This combination helps to add to the signature flavor of Cajun cooking.
Spanish sofrito or soffrito is a mirepoix made of onions, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes and is often used for flavoring soups and stews.
German suppengrün often includes additions of leaks, and root vegetables like rutabaga and potatoes that store well over the winter months, along with herbs like thyme and parsley to add flavor to soups and stews.
Mirepoix vs. Soffritto
Soffrito is the Italian version of a mirepoix. This involves using minced vegetables that are sautéed in olive oil rather than butter. Because it uses minced vegetables rather than diced vegetables it lends itself well to being made in a food processor. A typical soffrito usually contains a combination of garlic, herbs, and may even contain cured meat.
What Can You Make with Mirepoix?
Using a mirepoix is a great way to give your soups and stews a rush of flavor and aroma that can send your family running for dinner. One great way I use mirepoix is in my Creamy Veggies and Noodles for a simple meal or this hearty Tuscan White Bean Soup to warm up a cold winter night.
Using a simple mirepoix is a great way to help bring out the flavors of these aromatic vegetables in your cooking, add flavor to simple rice side dishes, and add to a tomato sauce for a lovely and simple pasta topping.
If you have a question about making a mirepoix, leave it in the comments below!