Technically speaking, sofrito is a cooking technique more so than a recipe. It is the technique of sautéing fragrant herbs, vegetables and spices to bring out the flavor and aroma. It is the foundation upon which the rest of the recipe is built. Many cultures have a version of “sofrito”. Italians call a varying mixture of chopped celery, carrots, onion, leeks, garlic and parsley soffritto. The French use mirepoix, a mixture of onions, carrots and celery.
Sofrito is used in Spanish cuisine, but it is predominantly associated with Latin American and Caribbean cooking. It originated in Spain and most likely spread to Latin America and the Caribbean when the Spanish established their colonies.
An internet search for a sofrito recipe results in many variations all purporting to be authentic. Some will insist that the use of green bell pepper is wrong, but it isn’t if you’re Cuban. Some will insist it has to contain culantro, but culantro is mostly used in Puerto Rican cuisine. Some cultures use lard and some don’t. It can be frustrating if you’re looking for the “one” recipe. Instead, look through the many variations and experiment like I did to come up with your own.
The photo below shows the vegetables that have been chopped finely with the food processor divided into the ice-cube trays. I don’t sauté prior to freezing.
I make a couple of different versions where the main ingredients are onion, bell pepper, garlic and cilantro. Sometimes I add a tomato or a small jalapeno pepper or both for slightly different flavor.
Time: 15 mins
Serving: 2 – 3 cups
1 green or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves garlic (or to taste), peeled
1 small bunch cilantro (or to taste), washed and dried and edges trimmed
1 small jalapeno pepper, optional
1 medium tomato, optional
If using jalapeno pepper, remove stem and seeds first. I use a small pepper, but use more or less to suit your taste. Same with garlic (I would use a minimum of 3) and cilantro, use more or less according to your taste. If you’re using a tomato, cut in half, gently squeeze out the seeds/pulp and juice and cut into quarters. Otherwise, it will be very watery.
When all the ingredients are ready, put them minus the cilantro into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add cilantro and pulse until thoroughly mixed.
Store in the fridge for immediate use or freeze in ice-cube trays or mini muffin tins for later use.