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What is Sofrito?

Diane Goettel
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sofrito is a sort of umbrella Spanish word for a savory and flavorful sauce. The word and definition have a commonality with the Italian soffritto. This Italian word refers to something that is sauteed. This is a sensible definition as, in order to make sofrito, one must sautee vegetables and spices. There are many different types of sauces covered by this term, and many different cuisines use a variation of it in numerous culinary manners.

In Spain, Haiti, France and Italy, sofrito is made by cooking tomatoes, garlic, and onions in olive oil. It is often used as the cooking base for sauces, stews, and meat dishes. In Haiti, this sauce and cooking base is called epis. In France, it is referred to as mirepoix.

In the Caribbean Islands and Latin America, sofrito is made much like it is made in Spain, Haiti, France, and Italy. However, the ingredients also include roasted peppers and herbs. That made in Cuba is similar to what is made in Caribbean and Latin America. Spices added to Cuban sofrito include bay leaves, cilantro, cumin, and oregano. Furthermore, in Cuban cuisine, chorizo, bacon, and ham are sometimes added. This is often done when the sauce is being prepared for a bean dish. Puerto Rican cooks often add recao and aji dulce or bell peppers, and it is traditionally made with salted and cured meats.

Sofrito is also used in Mediterranean cooking. It is a bit different, however, in terms of the thickness and ingredients that are used. In Sephardic cuisine, native to the eastern quarters of the Mediterranean region, it is made of water or soup stock that is flavored with lemon juice. The spices that are used to flavor it are garlic, turmeric, and cardamom. It is often used to cook meat, poultry, and fish dishes. In Greece, sofrito is generally only found on the island of Corfu, where it is made with white wine, garlic, and herbs. There, it is used for a slow-cooked veal steak which is served with rice.

It is possible to find bottled sofrito in some American grocery stores and markets, especially in areas where people from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean reside. It is an excellent way to add some extra flavor to soups, chilis, and meat dishes.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By anon83873 — On May 12, 2010

Well, Cuba is belong to the Caribbean, like Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo and Haiti.In Puerto Rico we made sofrito with cilantro, culantro (recao), little sweet peppers, onion, garlic, long green pepper (Cubanelle) and oregano. That's all We don't used bell peppers. We do not add salted meat to sofrito, either. Sofrito is a mix of fresh ingredients we use to cook with. It's like a mirepoix: carrots, onions and celery.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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