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.
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.
- 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?