Make Your Own Soup Starter

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Apart from bone broth mirepoix is, in my opinion, one of the secrets to a great pot of soup (among other lovely things). 

Although I have been cooking for  years, I am embarrassed to say that I did not know what mirepoix was until just a few years ago.

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Williams Sonoma Kitchen Companion defines mirepoix as “a classic French mixture of diced onions, carrots, and celery; flavors stocks, stews, and sauces, and serves as a bed for roasting meat. “

No soup in our kitchen starts without it. 

I treat it like a ritual: chopping the carrots, onions, and celery, then tumbling them in to the stock pot while admiring the trio of green, white, and orange.  While they cook slowly, I’ll sprinkle some dried thyme across the top, and, at just the right moment add a splash of Vermouth.  When the alcohol has evaporated and the veggies have absorbed the flavor, I’ll pour in a quart of bone broth. Mirepoix

Since we moved to the country and my shopping trips happen just once a month, I have resorted to preparing a dehydrated mirepoix mix to have on hand for when fresh vegetables in the house are scarce. 

If you are new to dehydration as a way of preserving food, don’t be intimidated by it like I was.  It is a very simple process unlike canning or even freezing.  The fruit or vegetables are simply processed according to your choice, blanched if necessary, and spread onto trays until they are completely dry.  They can then be stored long term for use whenever needed.

The benefits of dehydrating:

  • Nutrients of the fresh vegetables are preserved
  • Dehydrated foods take up less space
  • Flavor is enriched and enhanced

If dehydrating is a new skill and you would like to learn more about it with a hands on approach I recommend the Dehydrating Course through Gnowfglins.

To prepare your mirepoix mix:

  • Chop equal amounts of peeled carrot, celery (strings removed) and yellow onion ~  keep them separate.
  • Blanch the celery and the carrot by lowering a colander into a stock pot of boiling water.  I like to use this colander because it tolerates the heat and collapses for easy storage. You don’t want to precook, you just want to set the color.
  • Spread the pieces onto the trays of your dehydrator, and dry at 130 degrees.  It is best to still keep the vegetables separate as they may all require different drying times.
  • When the vegetables are dry and chewy they are done.  Take care to ensure that most of the moisture has been evaporated.  You don’t want to discover a jar of moldy mirepoix a few months down the road.
  • Store in an airtight glass jar or similar container in a cool, dark pantry.

To use:

  • For best results rehydrate the mixture a few hours in advance.  Pour into a glass bowl, cover with hot water, and allow them to sit until they have reabsorbed moisture.
  • Add to the stockpot and use as you would fresh.
  • If you don’t remember to rehydrate in advance, you can still use them dried.  Just toss them into the pot and take care to add some additional liquid.

What are some of your secrets to a great pot of soup?

 

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Comments

Make Your Own Soup Starter — 18 Comments

  1. We dehydrate a lot of fruits and herbs but this is a good idea for soups.

    Another great idea for stews that came about because sweet yellow onions are always cheap and/or plentiful is to make a cauldron of French onion soup, which I enjoy as a separate dish, and package it in quarts. The process of cooking the onions brings out the sweet flavor and just dump a quart into any stew and you have the base. Sure beats having to cut onions every time and the sweetness gives the stew a wonderful body and flavor.

    • That’s a great idea Phil! Thanks for that tip. I love French onion soup and I think it would be great to have some on hand as you mentioned.

    • Becky I’ve really enjoyed having one. The top of the line (supposedly) is the Excalibur but I’ve done fine with the L’Equip model that I linked to in the post. Let me know what you decide. :D

  2. What a great idea! I have all three veggies dehydrated in my pantry, but they are separate, and I like the idea of combining them into a mirepoix.

    • Hi Kathi! It has come in quite handy and I find myself using it for other things as well like rice pilaf. The other night I used it for some braised lamb shanks. I didn’t even rehydrate, I just added the mixture straight from the jar right to the liquid. Turned out perfect.

  3. Awesome Idea! We started this winter off with a LOT of onions that were frre to us (like around 200 pounds!) and I have dehydarted a bunch and turned them into dried onion flakes and onion powder. Can so see making this very soon! Plus just today I planted two types of celery twenty plant each and will save this post to use this fall when harvest time rolls around!
    Thanks for the wonderful idea!

  4. I know this will seem elementary, but I have a question about blanching. If you are only setting the color, how long do you blanch the carrots and celery for? As much as I can and cook, I don’t blanch things. Thanks!

    • Hi Julie, According to the user guide that came with my dehydrator, it is recommended that you blanch your vegetables until tender but still crunchy. They suggest 3-6 minutes. However, I found that to be way too long and did it for one minute. I don’t blanch often either myself, unless I absolutely have to. Hope that is helpful. :)

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  7. Such a great idea! My foodsaver also seals jars, thinking I may use it to “semi-can” the mixture. I also love the idea of canning onion soup to use as a base – I have a bunch of beef stock in my freezer that would be perfect for this. Thanks so much for providing new ideas.

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  9. How much of this dry mix do I use in a soup? Love this idea. What a great time saver!

    • Hi Linda, I use a few tablespoons. I don’t really measure, just pour a few in.

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