Italian Soffritto Recipe (How to Make)

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How to make Italian Soffritto Recipe. Many Italian recipes start with a simple soffritto recipe a staple for most sauces, soups, and stews in any Italian kitchen (cucina). It is the flavorful base that provides essential flavors to any recipe. Learn the best methods for how to make Italian soffritto here!

finished soffritto in a pan with wooden spoon.
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Popular recipes that start with Italian soffritto: BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu, Best Italian-Style Chili Recipe, Authentic Italian Pasta e Fagioli Recipe (soup), Classic Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe, and many more classic Italian recipes!

Soffritto Recipe

Onions, celery, and carrots are considered traditional soffrito in Italian cooking. Their combined flavors form a versatile base for countless recipes when cooked low-and-slow in a generous amount of olive oil.

The mix of vegetables and cooking process is known as the holy trinity in Italian cooking.

This technique is so simple and it is more about the process than an actual recipe. You don’t eat soffritto for dinner, but it starts your favorite and loved Italian dishes.

Main Ingredients

The main ingredients are simple and few. I like to use as fresh as possible to give my soffritto recipe the best quality and taste.

ingredient shot for recipe
  • Olive oil (extra virgin olive oil) – use high-quality olive oil even when cooking. See my recommendations in the section below.
  • Onions – I prefer yellow onion for the milder taste. You can also use white onion interchangeably.
  • Celery – I like to get the large celery stalks
  • Carrots – I find those whole organic carrots deliver the best taste, they are sweet and don’t have that bitter taste found in smaller mini carrot varieties. Of course, you can use those if that is all you have!
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

The general rule for soffritto contains onion, carrot, and celery with a ratio of 2-1-1 (this refers to 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery). You can adjust to taste and also vary depending on the recipe.

For example, 1 cup onion, 1/2 cup carrot, and 1/2 cup celery. You can then double or triple as needed using the same ratios.

See the recipe card for quantities.

photo of optional herbs to include in soffritto.

Optional aromatics:

  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh Oregano
  • Fresh Sage
  • Garlic
  • Shallot

Season to taste if adding aromatics or herbs. Dried herbs will also work. Add to taste knowing that dried herbs are more concentrated and potent than fresh herbs.

How to Make Italian Soffritto Recipe (Step-by-Step Photos)

Every Italian nonna has their own recipe and will likely tell you theirs is better, ha! Here is our simple family recipe and how to make it.

ingredient shot for recipe
  • Wash, peel, and prepare the vegetables.
diced ingredients for soffritto on wooden cutting board.
  • Using a sharp knife cut the onion, carrot, and celery close to the same size on a cutting board. You can mince, chop, dice, finely dice, or use the method you prefer to cut the vegetables into small pieces. Perfection is not required!
  • SHORT CUT– if you want to speed up the process you can use the pulse mode of a food processor to finely chop the Italian soffritto mix.
1st step to make Italian sofritto. Fry ingredients in olive oil.
  • Add extra virgin olive oil to the pan, or pot on medium heat.
  • When the oil starts shimmering add the diced vegetables, and cook, stirring often. If adding meat, add now.
Italian soffritto half way through cooking in the pan.
  • Adjust to low heat as needed, and continue to sauté until golden, it will take from a minimum of 5-7 minutes to 20 minutes. This depends on how much they need to cook for the specific recipe you are using.
finished soffritto in a pan with wooden spoon.
  • See the variations section for optional add-ins. When the soffritto is 2-3 minutes from being done you can add garlic, herbs, spices, or wine- if desired. Give a good stir, keep cooking for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe you are cooking.

Learning how to make Italian soffritto is a basic must in Italian cuisine. It is the base for many recipes and gives a unique flavor and texture to sauces and stews. Sometimes it includes other ingredients such as garlic, aromatic herbs, or wine.

ingredient shot for recipe

In the culinary world, you may also know soffritto as French mirepoix as it is referred to in French cuisine. There is also a Spanish sofrito variation.

A key difference is that the French mirepoix vegetables are cooked slowly in butter, rather than in olive oil for soffritto. In mirepoix, the vegetables are often removed from the final dish before the end of the cooking process.

Mirepoix is cooked low and slow while Soffritto browns the vegetables and cooks them a bit more.

Another common term or variation is the Creole version “holy trinity”. This is popular in Cajun cuisine and Louisiana Creole cuisine. It is the base for several dishes and consists of onions, bell peppers, and celery. 

How to use soffritto

A classic soffritto is the base for meat sauces, a quick pasta sauce, some tomato sauce (red sauce), bolognese sauce, and soups, pasta recipes, stews, or Italian-style chili. It’s called the “humble beginnings” for a good reason. Soffritto is the foundation of so many Italian classics.

Olive Oil Variety

I don’t cut corners when it comes to quality olive oil. Flavorful olive oil is a good base for any recipe. You can also use good quality butter for soffritto for a richer taste.

Olive Oil Brands

I recommend using high-quality ingredients. You will really taste the flavor difference and it is worth it! These are the olive oil brands you can find at most grocery stores in the United States.

Extra-virgin Olive Oil brands- DeLalloColavitaBertolli, California Olive Ranch, HemisFares, and Spectrum.

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Variations

Although, these variations are not your traditional soffritto recipe you can try them the next time you make it to mix things up a bit. Here are some suggestions for add-ons.

  • Bell peppers – the same amount as the carrot and celery. Also considered the “holy trinity”.
  • Chili flakes – add to the beginning of cooking to realize the oils.
  • Dried herbs – you can add a variety of herbs such as thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Not traditional herbs include sage, fresh basil leaves, and mint.
  • Diced meat – Battuto adds meat to traditional soffritto it adds cold meats in such as pancetta or salted pork. You can use pancettaguanciale, or bacon to add flavor and richness such as in this recipe: Authentic Italian Pasta e Fagioli Recipe (soup). Add them to the pot at the beginning of cooking and reduce the overall amount of oil or butter.
  • Red onions – use interchangeably with white to the yellow onion.
  • Leeks – substitute the onion for fresh leeks.
  • Shallot – I adore the taste of shallot and cook with it often. Add 1 shallot for this recipe, or double accordingly.
  • Garlic – Garlic adds a strong flavor, so add a small amount to taste and add it at the end of cooking since garlic tends to burn easily.
  • Wine – a 1/2 cup of red wine or white wine adds a flavor undertone to any dish. Add this at the end of cooking time to deglaze the pan.
  • Tomato paste – This is common in some recipes such as BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu. Add towards the end of cooking and mix well with vegetables.

Suggested tools

I recommend a sharp knife, a good wood cutting board, a frying pan, a pot, and a sturdy wooden spoon for making the soffritto.

Storage

how to freeze Italian soffritto recipe in a bag.

Sometimes I like to make a big batch of soffritto and freeze it in small containers or even an ice cube tray. Making a soffritto is also the perfect way to use up the odds and ends of the celery, carrots, and onions that are about to go bad in your fridge or counter!

FAQ

What’s the difference between Mirepoix and Soffritto

Mirepoix (French) and Soffritto (Italian) generally contain 2 parts onion 1 part carrot and 1 part celery with some additions and variations. The difference is that the French mirepoix vegetables are cooked slowly in butter, rather than in olive oil for soffritto, and then often removed from the final dish before the end of the cooking process. Mirepoix is cooked low and slow while Soffritto browns the vegetables and cooks them a bit more.

How should I cut the vegetables for soffrito?

I watched my nonna make soffritto since I was old enough to stand in the kitchen and watch her cook. It all starts with cutting the vegetables with a sharp knife to create fairly similar-sized cubes (don’t worry you can still do a quick chop and that will do). It’s not about perfection in this soffritto mix. If you want to speed this up you can use the pulse mode of a food processor to finely chop the Italian soffritto mix.

What does the word Soffritto mean?

Soffritto comes from the verb Soffrigere in Italian. The Italian word soffritto means “slightly-fried”. This refers to the process of cooking the fresh vegetables slowly until they release their flavor. They shouldn’t be too brown, or dark in color. You want that slightly golden brown color and the delicious smell of the beginning of something wonderful stewing. DO NOT confuse soffritto with “sofrito”. This is used in many Latin Caribbean dishes. It’s a puree of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic. It is known as “recaito” in Puerto Rico, where they don’t typically use tomatoes, it is green and fresh looking.

Make sure to leave a ⭐️star rating on the recipe card and comment below if you make the recipe. I love to connect with you through my recipes.

I would love for you to tag me on Instagram @cucinabyelena so I can see your delicious Italian recipes. To get more ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

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Cover photo

Soffritto Recipe

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5 from 1 review

Many Italian recipes start with a simple soffritto recipe a staple for most sauces, soups, and stews in any Italian kitchen (cucina). It is the flavorful base that provides essential flavors to any recipe. Learn the best methods for how to make Italian soffritto here!

  • Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 celery rib, diced (about 1/2 cup)

(see notes for variations and add-ins)

Instructions

  1. Wash, peel, and prepare the vegetables.
  2. Using a sharp knife cut the onion, carrot, and celery close to the same size. You can mince, chop, dice, finely dice, or use the method you prefer to cut the vegetables into small pieces. Perfection is not required! SHORT CUT– if you want to speed up the process you can use the pulse mode of a food processor to finely chop the Italian soffritto mix.
  3. Add extra virgin olive oil to the pan, or pot on medium heat. When the oil starts shimmering add the diced vegetables, and cook, stirring often. If adding meat add now. 
  4. Adjust to medium-low heat, and continue to sauté until golden, it will take from a minimum of 5-7 minutes to 20 minutes. 
  5. See variations in notes for optional add-ins. When the soffritto is 2-3 minutes from being done you can add garlic, herbs, spices, or wine- if desired. Give a good stir, keep cooking for 1 or 2 minutes.
  6. Then, add the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe you are cooking.

Notes

Double this recipe with the same ratios as needed. 

Freeze: you can freeze your diced (uncooked) vegetables in a freezer bag and use them any time you need a quick soffritto for your dishes.

Variations:

  • Bell peppers – the same amount as the carrot and celery)
  • Chili flakes – add to the beginning of cooking to realize the oils.
  • Dried herbs – you can add a variety of herbs such as thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Not traditional herbs include sage, fresh basil, and mint.
  • Diced meat – you can use pancettaguanciale, or bacon adds flavor and richness such as in this recipe: Authentic Italian Pasta e Fagioli Recipe (soup). Add them to the pot at the beginning of cooking and reduce the overall amount of oil or butter.
  • Red onion – use interchangeably with white to the yellow onion.
  • Leeks – substitute the onion for fresh leeks.
  • Shallot – I adore the taste of shallot and cook with it often. Add 1 shallot for this recipe, or double accordingly.
  • Garlic – Garlic adds a strong flavor, so add a small amount to taste and add it at the end of cooking since garlic tends to burn easily.
  • Wine – a 1/2 cup of red wine or white wine adds a flavor undertone to any dish. Add this at the end of cooking time to deglaze the pan.
  • Tomato paste – This is common in some recipes such as BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu. Add towards the end of cooking and mix well with vegetables.
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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  1. The best start to any soup or sauce is the soffritto. This recipe is the Italian way to do it and super delicious!