Sofrito, sofrigit, soffritto, refogado—this basic sauce pops up in Spanish, Latin American, Italian, Portuguese, and Sephardic cuisine. There are countless variations, and each cuisine has its particular stamp—onion, garlic, and tomatoes are used in Spain, for instance.

Makes about 1V4 cups Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

Basic sofrito

1-2 tbsp good-quality olive oil 1 onion, finely chopped or thinly sliced 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pounded to a paste using a mortar and pestle

4 ripe plum tomatoes, about 10-12oz (300-360g), chopped (peeled and seeded, or not, according to taste)

1 Heat the oil in a medium frying pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5-10 minutes, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

2 Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As the tomatoes cook down, the sauce becomes syrupy and rich. Depending on the type of dish you are making, you may need to cook longer to thicken.

3 At this point, the basic sofrito is ready. You can now add a variety of herbs, spices, meat, fish, or wine, then continue with your dish. Below are some suggestions.


  • Seed a dried ancho or chipotle chile and cover with hot water. Purée the chile and its soaking liquid into a paste. Add to the sofrito to make a Mexican salsa for meatballs or to use for dishes such as chili con carne.
  • Add a glass of good red wine and some fresh herbs such as rosemary or oregano, to use with pork or lamb.
  • Soften a few saffron threads in 1h cup water. Add to the sofrito and cook until slightly thickened. Use with pasta shapes such as orzo, fregola, and malloredus.
  • Add 1/2 tsp pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika) and freshly squeezed orange juice to make a great sauce for white fish.

Works well with

Plum (pp64-73) Standard globe (pp22-35)

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