Spanish Sofrito

Spanish Sofrito is a mix of onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. Combined, these ingredients are used as a cooking base for many delicious meals!

Spanish Sofrito recipe from the National Onion Association

We have had a lot of fun exploring Onions Around the World this spring and we hope that you’ve been able to join us for the ride. Our last stop takes us to Spain and the aromatic onion cooking base, sofrito.

Spanish sofrito combines onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes. It is sauteed in fat such as olive oil or butter. While sofrito becomes like a sauce that would be delicious as a condiment, it is most often used as a starter for Spanish meals such as chicken and rabbit, salted cod with tomatoes, and seafood stews. Like the Puerto Rican Recaito we shared, it is also blended into a filling for empanadas.

We use white onions in our sofrito and while you can substitute two cups of canned, crushed tomatoes, we like to use fresh tomatoes in summer. It is a great way to put garden tomatoes to good use!

Most types of tomatoes work well, and we use standard red beefsteak tomatoes. Just keep in mind that the ripeness and type of tomato you use can influence the cooking time needed to break them down. It also plays a role in the amount of liquid influencing the thickness of the final sofrito. If the sauce seems too thick, this can easily be corrected with a little water or additional olive oil.

Spanish Sofrito

For other ingredients, any type of sweet green pepper can be used, but the simplest and most readily available is a green bell pepper. Herbs and spices such as bay leaf, parsley, and smoked paprika can be added as the sofrito evolves into a final recipe. All of the ingredients are pureed into a rich sauce.

We’ll be using our Spanish sofrito to make a simple Chicken and Shrimp Paella. That recipe is coming soon for an easy stovetop summer meal!

How to make Spanish Sofrito | Recipe at

Spanish Sofrito

Makes about 1 ¾ cup


4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt


Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown and soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. The tomatoes should soften and break down. Keep in mind that riper tomatoes make take less time to break down. At this point, the sofrito will look like a thick, chunky sauce.

Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the parsley, if using, and the salt. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer back to the skillet to use as the base for your Spanish recipe!


Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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Slow Cooker Bolognese

This easy slow cooker bolognese begins with a vegetable-based Italian battuto, chopped white onion, carrot, and celery cooked in butter and flavored with fresh parsley.

Slow Cooker Bolognese from the National Onion Association

Keep things simple in the kitchen and make this Italian-inspired meat sauce! Continuing with our exploration of Onions Around the World, the recipe features the onion cooking base, battuto. White onions have a crisp, pungent flavor that turns pleasantly sweet when cooked making them an ideal addition to this slow cooker bolognese.

All of the delicious ingredients blend into a thick and hearty meat sauce over several hours on low in the slow cooker. Use the sauce to top pasta or spiralized vegetables. It is so thick and rich that you can even use it as a sub sandwich filling or fill pizza dough for a homemade calzone.

Easy and delicious Slow Cooker Bolognese with White Onions from the National Onion Association

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Serves:  4 to 6


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large white onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
½ cup diced celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, until the pieces just begin to glisten in the butter. Add carrots and celery and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large, 6-quart, slow cooker.

Stir in the ground beef, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, until the beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender. If possible, stir occasionally during the cooking process to prevent the thick sauce from gathering and blackening around the sides of the bowl.

Transfer to a bowl to serve over pasta, vegetables, or as a filling for sandwiches.


Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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Italian Battuto

Our next stop on our tour of Onions Around the World is Italy and an onion cooking base known as Italian Battuto.

Our next stop on our tour of Onions Around the World is Italy and a onion cooking base known as Italian Battuto. | National Onion Association #cookingideas

Italian Battuto combines onions, carrots, and celery making it similar to the French Mirepoix. This onion cooking base goes a step further for more flavor by also including garlic and parsley. The vegetables are chopped, or some might say they are beaten, given that the English translation of battuto is beaten. They are cooked in fat such as butter or olive oil. Some versions also include a meat that provides the fat for cooking the vegetables such as diced pancetta or bacon.

While onion cooking bases like The Holy Trinity are often associated with famous chefs in the restaurant industry, battuto is more closely associated with family history and home cooking. For example, many people familiar with the base associate it with an Italian grandmother or aunt.

We like to use white onions in our battuto. This variety has a crisp and clean flavor that is also pungent. This allows its flavors to hold up during long cooking times, like those you will see in the Slow Cooker Bolognese we will be sharing. The onion turns pleasantly sweet when cooked, but maintains a delicious onion flavor that complements any dish.

Italian Battuto | Cooking with onions from the National Onion Association

The ratio of vegetables is up to the cook. We prefer a large onion to one cup of carrots and a half cup of celery along with three cloves of garlic. A tablespoon or two of chopped parsley is ideal, depending on your preference. When chopping your vegetables keep the pieces similar in size. This will help them all cook evenly as they sautee in the butter or olive oil.

We’ll be using our battuto in a meat sauce so we opted out of using a meat like pancetta when cooking the base in our upcoming recipe. Feel free to experiment with your version, though. Battuto can be used as the start to a variety of delicious meals including pasta sauces, risotto, soups, and stews.


Images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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German Potato and Leek Soup with Shrimp

This creamy, comforting potato and leek soup topped with shrimp starts with German soup greens, or suppengrün!

German Potato and Leek Soup with Shrimp Recipe (kartoffelsuppe mit krabben) | National Onion Association

German suppengrün, soup greens, or suppengemüse, soup vegetables, is the base for kartoffelsuppe, a creamy potato soup. We’ve chosen a version of the soup mit krabben, with shrimp. Once the soup is blended, it is topped with small shrimp for serving. It adds a delicious twist on a classic comfort food.

We’ve mentioned that traditional bundles of suppengrün contain carrots, leeks, and celery. Onions and herbs are often found along with these core ingredients so we’ve expanded our base to include yellow onion, parsley, and thyme increasing the depth of flavor. This soup is simple to prepare and it is perfect for serving at lunch, dinner, or even as a starter for brunch.

German Potato and Leek Soup with Shrimp Recipe (kartoffelsuppe mit krabben)

German Potato and Leek Soup with Shrimp

Serves 4 to 6


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 leek, white and light green portion sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 medium gold potatoes, chopped
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup water
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
¾ cup small cooked salad shrimp, thawed if frozen


Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and leek. Cook for 2 minutes until the vegetables glisten with the oil and barely begin to soften. Stir in the parsley and thyme, and then the potatoes. Cook for 5 more minutes.

Add the stock and water. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer partially covered for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Remove from the heat. Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot over low heat. Alternatively, you can puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.

Stir in the salt and pepper. Add more to taste if desired. Ladle the warm soup into serving bowls and top each with an equal amount of shrimp before serving.


Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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German Suppengrün

The next stop on our tour of Onions Around the World is Germany and suppengrün!

How to cook with German suppengrün | Onions Around the World | From the National Onion Association

The best soups start with a delicious foundation of aromatic vegetables and Germany’s interpretation of this mix is no exception. As we continue to explore onion cooking bases around the world, German suppengrün, or soup greens, is the next delicious set of ingredients we are sharing to expand your experimentation with onions in the kitchen.

Also sometimes called suppengemüse, or soup vegetables, these vegetables are often found conveniently bundled together at markets. Traditionally the mix includes carrots, celery root, and leeks. It is not uncommon to find the addition of onions, parsnips, and herbs such as parsley in the bundles as well, and celery sometimes serves as a substitute for celery root.

Much like the French Mirepoix, suppengrün serves as a cooking base for soups and stews. The vegetables are sautéed in oil or butter until softened and then other soup ingredients are added that continue to build upon this base of flavors.

Like other similar cooking bases that we’ve explored, consistency in chopping is important when preparing recipes. All the pieces of vegetables should be similar in size to ensure even cooking so that when you are ready to add more ingredients or puree the base, everything is flavorful and tender.

Cooking with Onions Around the World | German Suppengrün |

It’s probably no surprise that we expanded our suppengrün to include yellow onions. We also added flat leaf parsley and thyme. While celery root is more traditional, it’s not always the easiest to work with as the tough skin of the large round root needs to be peeled and then the dense root chopped. Celery stalks and leaves make an ideal substitute.

These vegetables are especially delicious when blended into a creamy, comforting soup. In the coming weeks, we will be using them to make a potato and leek soup called kartoffelsuppe and we will recreate a traditional version that is topped with small shrimp. Stay tuned for the tasty recipe!


Images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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