This is Kissa. He’s a great cat. He looks better than poorly photographed sofrito.

Upon the shoulders of a good sofrito stands paella, gomen wat, empanadas, tacos and just about any bean stew worth making. It’s a nation builder.

There are many versions that include a variety of ingredients but the technique is the same: gather your aromatics and seasonings, then slow-cook in oil.

Make a big batch and use it all week or make just what you need for the meal ahead. Erik made a pasta sauce the other day that would, in the right mouths, inspire world peace.

Makes: 2 cups
Keeps: 2 Weeks
Time: 45 minutes


1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 TBSP smoked paprika

1 TBSP saffron

1 tsp fennel seed, toasted and ground

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup white wine

3 tsp = 1 TBSP
2 TBSP = 1 ounce
1 cup = 8 oz
1 cup = 1/2 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
16 cups – 1 gallon


Using a cast iron skillet and low heat, cook the onions in the oil until translucent. Add peppers and garlic and cook until peppers are soft. Add paprika, saffron, fennel seed and salt and pepper. Stir and bloom seasonings. Add wine and let the alcohol cook out–3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and capers for a pasta sauce.

Use it as a base for a beans stew.

Toss in chicken thighs and stock.

Hold off on the paprika and saffron, add black cumin, nigella seed and fenugreek, stir in greens for an Ethiopian-style stew.

Stir in rice, tomato and stock and slow cook.

Let cool, make crackers and serve as an appetizer.



Throw a Soave at this but if you’re making paella, Tempranillo will do.