What Is Mirepoix?

It's the silent MVP of your favorite dishes.

A big bowl of warm, hearty stew is typically full of flavors that go beyond the focal point (think: Beef Stew, Vegetarian Gumbo). If you've ever wondered what makes up the backbone of these liquid-based meals, then it's time to learn about mirepoix.

veggies cutting board knife
Christopher Testani

What Is Mirepoix?

Mirepoix is a combination of aromatic vegetables that gives a subtle background flavor to dishes such as soups, stews, and braises. Mirepoix, a French term, is typically made up of onion, carrot, and celery. But this version is only one of many possible variations. The Italian soffritto, like mirepoix, calls for onions, celery, and carrots, and sometimes pancetta and garlic. Mushrooms, parsnips, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic are all considered aromatic vegetables and can be used in endless combinations.

The "holy trinity" includes onions, celery, and—instead of carrot—a bell pepper. This is used as a base of most soups and stews made in Louisiana, including gumbo. Green peppers were substituted because they're easier to grow in southern Louisiana—plus they're delicious.

How to Make Mirepoix

Rinse, trim, and peel the vegetables—typically two parts onion to one part carrot and one part celery—then chop them into uniform pieces. The shorter the cooking time of your recipe, the smaller the pieces should be, so that they effectively infuse the foods with flavor.

You can add the mirepoix uncooked to stocks and broths for a light dose of flavor. To add richness to heartier stews and braises, "sweat" the vegetables first, cooking them with a little oil or butter over low heat until they start to release their juices into the pan.

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