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Mirepoix: An Essential Flavoring Base

A wooden chopping block with a knife resting on the side with a variety of chopped vegetables

A Staple of French Cooking

Mirepoix, (pronounced meer-PWAH) is a simple, homey vegetable base that plays an essential role in the aroma and flavoring of soups, stews, casseroles and more. A staple of French cooking, it’s a classic way to begin a recipe — by slowly sautéing a combination of onions, celery, and carrots in butter or oil until soft, fragrant, and translucent.

Playing A Key Supporting Role

Named in the 18th-century after the duke, Charles Pierre Gaston François de Lévis, or Duc de Mirepoix, a French general and diplomat, the generally accepted ratio of ingredients is 2:1:1 (two parts onions, one part celery, and one part carrots). However, there’s no need for today’s home cooks to be precious about it; it’s best to think of mirepoix as playing a supporting role in a great dish, as it helps the main ingredients to shine.

A wooden chopping block with a knife resting on the side with a variety of chopped vegetables

Cousin to the Holy Trinity

In fact, most of the world’s cuisines start with a common vegetable base that brings out the flavor of their iconic dishes. Creole and Cajun cuisines are no different, benefiting from their own variation. Interestingly, early French settlers in the Louisiana Territory brought their culinary customs with them, but there were no carrots in their swampy new home. So they substituted bell peppers for carrots, creating the Holy Trinity.

Usage Tips

A few usage tips when making mirepoix: in general, the finer you chop the vegetables, the quicker the aroma and flavors will be released. And if you’d like to prep for future use, go right ahead. Pre-chopped, frozen batches of mirepoix can be used easily in your favorite bean dishes.

Categories: Let's Cook! Recipes