The French Mirepoix

The next stop on our tour of Onions Around the World is France, and a mirepoix, a mix of onions, carrots, and celery!

Onion cooking tips: The French mirepoix is a flavorful mix of onions, carrots, and celery used to start delicious recipes like soups and stews.

Mirepoix (meer-PWAH) is the French cooking base that often gets credit for being an original recipe that was used to create other cooking bases in regions around the world. For example, it is possible that the Cajun Holy Trinity in the U.S. evolved to use green peppers instead of the carrots associated with the French recipe.

Geographically speaking, Mirepoix is a town in southwestern France. While it is difficult to identify the exact origin of the mix, there is evidence that it was named after, or is at least related to, the 18th century Duke of Mirepoix.

Mirepoix works so well to flavor dishes because it offers a balance of aromatics from onions and celery and pairs them with the sweetness of carrots. Proper ratios are up for debate, but many cooking references suggest a ratio of two parts onion, one part carrots, and one part celery.

One of the most interesting topics surrounding the onion base is the question of whether to brown the ingredients. Traditionally, the vegetables are lightly sautéed in fat such as butter or olive oil, a process also called sweating. In this method, the vegetables soften and juices become visible around the pieces, but no browning occurs. Taking the cooking further to browning, or caramelizing, changes the flavor of the vegetables. Sweetness deepens and intensifies. This is rarely a bad thing when it comes to delicious food, but it might go against history and tradition.

A mirepoix (a mix of onions, carrots, and celery) ready to be cooked as the start to many delicious recipes! Read more about Onions Around the World at!

In the U.S., though, how to cook mirepoix is up to the cook and the recipe. In a demonstration from the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Bill Briwa suggests browning the vegetables deeply for use with beef roasts. He also suggests adding the celery later in the process. The onions and carrots have more natural sugars that will result in better caramelization and flavor if allowed to brown prior to adding the celery.

Regardless of how a recipe suggests preparing the mirepoix, a uniform chopping method is essential to result in even cooking. The best size for the pieces all depends on how they will be used. Recipes with shorter cooking times, such as a sautéed vegetable and rice dish, will benefit from finely diced pieces for quick cooking, while soups and stews with longer cooking times can handle more rough chopping and larger pieces.

We don’t know about you, but we think the mirepoix has an interesting story given that it is such a simple mix of everyday ingredients. Whether lightly cooked or caramelized, with pieces small or large, the flavor it provides is essential to so many delicious recipes. We love how it can turn a basic soup or stew into a comforting meal that is worthy of a craving. Coming up next, we’ll be using the onion base in a favorite stew with French origin!


Images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association

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Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Gumbo

This hearty Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Gumbo starts with the Cajun Holy Trinity, a combination of onions, celery, and green bell peppers!

Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Gumbo Recipe from The National Onion Association

Gumbo makes a warm, filling meal and our version is no exception. It is rich with the flavors of the Cajun Holy Trinity combined with spices and crushed tomatoes. Jumbo shrimp add a burst of flavor, and while you can use any type of smoked sausage, we chose a version made from chicken.

We served this gumbo over white rice, but brown rice makes a delicious whole grain option. You can also pass on the grains and eat it like a stew on its own. Chopped parsley is a pretty garnish, but for a creative touch, chop up some of the leaves from your bunch of celery instead and sprinkle them over the top before serving.

This Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Gumbo recipe starts with the Cajun Holy Trinity of onions, celery, and green bell peppers! Get the recipe at

Makes: 6 servings


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 pound thawed jumbo shrimp, cleaned*
13-to-16-ounces fully cooked smoked chicken sausage, chopped
White or brown rice for serving
Chopped parsley or celery leaves for garnish


Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot such as a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring often, for 2 more minutes. Sprinkle in the salt, paprika, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir well.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir for about 1 minute as the flour and butter form a paste around the vegetables. Slowly pour in the stock and stir well. Increase the heat to medium as you stir. The stock will thicken quickly. Gradually stir in the tomatoes.

Increase the heat and bring the gumbo to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the shrimp turn opaque and are cooked through. Add the sausage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until warmed through.

Serve the gumbo over rice and sprinkle with parsley or celery leaves before serving.

*Cleaned cooked shrimp can be substituted. Thaw before using and add them to the pot at the same time as the sausage. Cook until all ingredients are fully heated. 

Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association


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The Cajun Holy Trinity

The Cajun Holy Trinity provides a base of flavor for well-known Cajun dishes such as gumbo, etouffee, and jambalaya!

Cooking with The Cajun Holy Trinity from The National Onion Association

We are starting our exploration of Onions Around the World close to home with the Cajun Holy Trinity. A mix of onions, celery, and green peppers, this flavorful combination serves as a base for cooking throughout Louisiana in a multitude of traditional recipes. If you’ve enjoyed a Cajun meal, it is certain you have tasted something that first began as the Holy Trinity, or the Trinity, as it is also sometimes called.

It is unclear who first named this mix of ingredients, according to a report from The Times-Picayune. Although, there is evidence that it was popularized by chef Paul Prudhomme in the late 1970s. The name stuck and spread throughout the state in the 80s and has been around ever since.

Onions, celery, and green peppers make up The Cajun Holy Trinity. Learn more at!

Most often using yellow or white onions, this base is a staple in nearly every dish the world associates with Cajun and Creole cuisine such as gumbo, red beans and rice, and other soups and stews of the region. The proper ratio of onions to celery to green peppers seems to be up to the cook and the specific recipe. While some chefs reference a 1:1:1 ratio, others suggest a 3:2:1 ratio. Of course, we can’t argue with the latter. The more onions the better!

While each recipe varies, as a general rule, fat, such as butter or olive oil, is heated in a heavy skillet or pot, like a cast iron skillet or a Dutch oven. Then the Holy Trinity is added and sautéed over medium-high heat until the vegetables soften. This usually takes about five minutes. Seasonings and spices are added to layer the flavors and create a delicious meal.

Onions create a foundation of flavor in The Cajun Holy Trinity.

The key to the perfect Holy Trinity is consistency in chopping. The onions, celery, and bell pepper are all added to the skillet at the same time, so you want the pieces of each ingredient to be about the same size to ensure even cooking. Other than that, this base of flavor that is full of tasty onions leaves plenty of room for interpretation and experimentation in the kitchen.

Our go-to combination is one large onion, two stalks of celery, and one medium green bell pepper for recipes that serve four to six people. When sautéed in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, it provides a delicious and healthy base for building rich flavors.

Onions, celery, and bell pepper create The Cajun Holy Trinity used in a variety of Cajun recipes. Find out more at

In our next post, we will be sharing our favorite Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Gumbo recipe to help you get started cooking with the Cajun Holy Trinity!

Images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association


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Onions Around the World

Join us over the next few months as we celebrate Onions Around the World!

Onions around the world! A recipe series from the National Onion Association celebrating the use of onions in traditional meals from Louisiana to Puerto Rico to Italy!

Onions are a timeless ingredient for cooking. For decades, they have served as the core for delicious cuisines around the world. In nearly every country, recipes that range from simple, everyday dinners to those prepared for special occasions all start with onions.

These foods begin with an onion base – a combination of chopped onions with a few other ingredients that are then cooked in the early stages of the recipe to create a foundation that is full of flavor. As cooking continues and flavors begin to layer and build, some of the most well-known foods from around the world begin to emerge.

Close to home, in Louisiana at the heart of Cajun cooking, the Holy Trinity, a mix of chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery is the starting point for traditional dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya. The French version, called Mirepoix, is used in soups. Italy has Battuto that adds garlic and parsley to the mix, while Sofrito in Spain contains tomatoes and Recaito in Puerto Rico includes cilantro. In Germany, the mix, called Suppengrün, often uses onions as a substitute for leeks to create hearty soups and stews.

Onions around the world!

Inspired by these delicious dishes and the necessity of flavorful onions to create them, over the next several months we will be exploring Onions Around the World here on the Onionista blog. We’ll be sharing a bit about the history of these onion bases and how to prepare them, along with a recipe using each one as a meal to enjoy with your family.

Each month will provide a new way to cook with onions with influences from around the world! Not only will the recipes provided create a sense of adventure in the kitchen, it will give you a base for experimenting with some of your own original creations. All with onions!

Are you familiar with the onion bases we’ve mentioned? If so, let us know what you enjoy making with them!


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Breakfast Casserole from Chef Hardette Harris

Louisiana chef, Hardette Harris, has been bringing much-deserved attention to her local cuisine of the Shreveport-Bossier area. In 2015 she became the creator of North Louisiana’s “Official Meal” which includes local dishes such as hot water cornbread.

In 2017, Chef Harris was named “Louisianian of the Year” by Louisiana Life Magazine. She also received the Best Small Town Chef of 2017 Award from Country Roads Magazine.

The culinary world is taking note of her work and the National Onion Association is among that group. When Chef Harris was asked by the Shreveport Times, “What do you consider the most underrated ingredient?” She responded, “Fresh onions – yellow, green, purple – any variety.” She added that the more onions she puts in her curry chicken dish the better it is.

We agree, Chef! We couldn’t be more thrilled with Chef Harris’ efforts to help onions shine in her delicious recipes. Her Breakfast Casserole is the perfect example. She combines yellow onion with turkey sausage to create a hearty, filling casserole that is a simple alternative for a weekend brunch, or an ideal addition to your weekly meal prep plan.

Breakfast Casserole Recipe from Louisiana Chef Hardette Harris. Shared by the National Onion Association. Find it at

Breakfast Casserole

Recipe and image credit, Chef Hardette Harris. Shared with permission.

Makes:  12 servings


3 links sweet ground turkey sausage (removed from casing)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 slices whole-wheat, sugar-free bread
2 cups fat-free shredded cheddar cheese
10 large egg whites
2 large whole eggs
2 cups fat-free milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Spray the 9-x-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven at 350 F.

In a sauté pan cook sausage until done. Remove and chop into small crumbly pieces. Set aside in a bowl.

Reserve about 1 tablespoon of the green onions. Sauté the remaining green onions, yellow onion, and garlic in the oil until lightly brown and soft. Remove, add to sausage and mix.

Lay bread slices in baking dish. Slightly pull them apart until they cover the bottom of the dish. Then layer equal parts of sausage mixture, then cheese. Repeating.

In a separate bowl, with a whisk, whip egg whites, eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper together until slightly frothy. Immediately pour over sausage and cheese. Bake for about 35 minutes. Sprinkle top with reserved green onion. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

Photo of Chef Harris above by Bianca Nieves.



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