If you’re a “foodie”, someone who enjoys The Food Network, or just a person who loves to cook, you’ve probably heard the term “mirepoix” thrown around a lot. Mirepoix refers to the “Holy Trinity” of a basic recipe or soup/stew/stock base – a ratio of onions, carrots, and celery. Charles-Pierre-Gaston-François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix, Marshall of France and Ambassador of Louis XV, was a member of a house that was founded in Languedoc as Lords of Mirepoix, Ariège. The chef de cuisine of the duke (unnamed) established the basis for his culinary masterpieces, and named it “Mirepoix” in honor of his employer. Mirepoix is also referred to as “aromatics” because of the delicious odors given off when they are sautéed.
The ratio is 2:1:1 – 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. This can be seen as 2 ounces: 1 ounce: 1 ounce, or it can be broken into “parts” which refers to “equal parts” or “equal measurements” to make up 100%. This would mean that 2:1:1 would be 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery.
Now that we’ve gotten past the complicated math, let’s break it down into something super easy – real life. Generally the most fundamental and easiest way to make a mirepoix is to use one medium size white onion, two to three regular size carrots, and three to four regular stalks of celery. Vegetables don’t vary too much in size so it’s simple to use the common sense measurements if you don’t have time to weigh and scale out your vegetables.
To create your mirepoix, first decided how much you need. For example, if you are making a gallon of stew, you will need the measurements listed above. Use your judgment and preferences to determine how much of the mixture you will need. We can never get enough veggies into our diets! Don’t forget that the mirepoix does not have to remain in the soup/sauce – sometimes simply sautéing your mirepoix with salt/pepper/garlic/spices is enough to add flavor and afterward the solids can be strained out for a smooth soup or sauce.
You will need the following:
1 medium white onion, peeled
2-3 regular size carrots, peeled
3-4 regular size celery stalks, stringed (stringing refers to “peeling” the stalk to remove the sinewy strings that are tough and tend to get stuck in one’s teeth)
1-2 ounces butter/margarine
Rough chop onion/carrot/celery – make sure all pieces are approximately the same size to ensure even cooking. Melt the butter/margarine and add the carrots first since they are the densest of the three vegetables. Cook the carrots for a short time, and then add the onions and celery. Sauté the vegetable mixture until the onions and celery are translucent (clear) – DO NOT BROWN!
This combination of cooked vegetables will be the essential base for all your recipes. If you do a lot of cooking, you can easily chop up the veggies at the start of your week and use as needed, as long as you keep them under refrigeration. Remember that no food should be stored longer than 5 days!