Soup can be the ultimate Tilt-The-Fridge meal for using up all the bits and pieces of leftovers that have accumulated over the week. It’s also a quintessential fall food! While stock is obviously important, the key to a good, homemade soup is often the base, and one of the easiest ways to make sure you have a good base is by using 'mirepoix.'
Mirepoix is French. The term dates back to the 18th century, though the method is likely far older. It may sound a bit fancy, but it’s just a mixture of roughly chopped onions, celery and carrots, which you sauté in your fat of choice—olive oil, coconut oil, butter etc.—before adding your seasoning, stock and whatever else you have on hand, like that half bowl of leftover stir fry, that red pepper that needs to be eaten NOW, that extra steak that everyone was too full to tackle… It’s a great way to use up carrots, onions and celery, too, as maybe it’s just us, but we find these are regular culprits for sort of hiding in the back of the crisper drawer and not revealing themselves until the pressure is really on to use them before they droop! Another nice thing about mirepoix is that it can be prepped a few days in advance, so if you know Thursday night, say, is going to be a bit nuts, you can do some chopping on Tuesday and pop your mixture, covered, into the fridge, ensure you have some stock on your shelf (or even bone broth in your freezer) and then basically all you have to do on crazy night is pick up a loaf of bread and then tip everything into a pot when you get home.
And if you really want to prep in advance, you can even freeze mirepoix, so again, if you catch your carrots/celery heading into the droop zone but aren’t planning to make soup in the near future, you can make up a batch of mirepoix and tuck it into the freezer for whenever the mood strikes you. It’s kind of like a savoury version of tossing bananas into your freezer for the day you feel like making banana bread. You’re not just restricted to soups, either, when it comes to using it—it works in stews, slow cooker dinners, stir frys… basically anywhere you’d like a nice, aromatic flavour boost. That said, here’s quick, general guide for how to use mirepoix to create a basic soup (we'd of course recommend using organic veg!):
- Chop equal parts celery, carrots and onions.
- ‘Sweat’ the mirepoix in your choice of cooking fat. (i.e. cook over low - medium heat until the vegetable are just beginning to get soft.)
- Add your seasoning, then add your stock and any other ingredients you’d like to include in your soup. Serve when all the ingredients are hot and cooked through!
We know that really is general, but that's the beauty of the process—it's super flexible, perfect for incorporating whatever's on hand, and really difficult to do 'wrong'. Maybe start with a couple of cups of mirepoix to a litre of sock, see how you like it, and adapt it to your own personal taste from there! As a final note, mirepoix can be strained out of the stock before adding your main ingredients, or it can be blended into the stock with your main ingredients, or it can be left in as chopped pieces for a nice texture!
Happy soup making!