What is soffritto?
In Italian cuisine, soffritto is a foundation ingredient used traditionally to add flavour, richness and complexity various sauces, soup, stew and braised dishes. It is similar to mirepoix in French cuisine. Soffritto consists of the aromatic vegetables used as in mirepoix, such as onion, carrot, celery (standard mirepoix) or onion, carrot, celery/ celeriac, parsnip & leek (white mirepoix) sauteed in olive oil or butter. Sometimes soffritto may contain other aromatic vegetables such as garlic, parsley & other aromatic herbs as well.
The word soffritto is derived from the Italian verb soffriggere, which means “to stir fry” or “saute”. Hence, soffritto may be considered as a cooking method as well. This concept is more associated with the Tuscany region of Italy.
Variations of soffritto
There are similar preparation used in other cuisine as well. In spanish and latin American cuisine it is known as sofrito. Garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, paprika, and other ingredients are used apart from the aromatic root vegetables.
Sofrito is a technique in Spanish cooking that originally came from the Catalan region but has now spread to the entire country, as well as its former colonies such as in the Caribbean and Latin America. It is particularly popular in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, where it is called sazón and recaito respectively.
From the Catalan word sofrefir, which means “to underfry,” sofregit is a Spanish cooking technique that had its first ever mention in one of the oldest cookbooks in the world, the Libre de Sent Soví, which was published in 1324. Today, it is basically a mixture of garlic, onions, olive oil, tomatoes, and sometimes also peppers and mushroom. The ingredients are sautéed from 15 minutes to about half an hour or so, in low heat.