mirepoix with split peas

You already eat it all the time whether you know it or not. Pronounced /meer – pwah/ , this is a bundle of flavor made all out of veggies that your local farmer probably grows for you.  


Before I started farming (my past life, as I call it),  I didn’t typically maintain a stock of onions in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I I worked on a farm and harvested fresh onions that I even began to realize how much I need them around, how versatile and impactful an onion can be to a soup, a burger, a pizza, and the list, along with my heart, goes on and on. If you still need convincing, let’s let that old romantic and wordsmith foodie, Pablo Neruda, take the stage for a moment with an excerpt from his Ode to an Onion:

“You make us cry without hurting us. I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are more beautiful than a bird of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet, unmoving dance of the snowy anemone
and the fragrance of the earth lives in your crystalline nature.”

  But you didn’t come here to snap your fingers at a poem. I promised a recipe. Let’s get to it. Mirepoix is not really something  made to stand on its own. It’s a starter for soups, warm salads, and the like. As  an eater of little animal protein, I frequently eat legumes like lentils and split peas, and a mirepoix base is a great start to a legume soup.

mirepoix with split peas
Mirepoix with split peas

You can make a large batch of mirepoix and save it in the refrigerator for a week or freezer for longer to use in future dishes. If  I have the trifecta of carrot, onion, celery in store, as well as some sort of legume , I’ll make up the rest as I go. Let’s use an example of a 6 serving split pea soup. I prefer using grapeseed oil in this recipe, as it’s good for high heat cooking and has a fairly neutral taste.

You’ll need: 
1 medium onion
2-3 medium carrots
2 stalks celery
3tbsp cooking oil
1/2 tsp salt

Simple steps: 1. Chop the onion, carrots, and celery into 1/2″ pieces. 2. Bring oil to low heat in a soup pot. Add onions and a bit of the salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 3. Bring the heat up to medium and add in the carrots, celery, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring, for 5-7 minutes.
Now, choose your own adventure! If you’re dealing with lentils or split peas, add them in the pot at this point; The goal is to lightly toast and flavor the legumes – it’s pertinent to stir almost continuously to avoid them burning. Be ready to add in the broth or cooking liquid  in 2 minutes or less. You can add in any other spices at this point too, to open up their flavors.

Meal Prep Ideas Make a bigger batch of mirepoix and add it to these quick meal ideas:

  • Cook couscous (5 minutes), quinoa (10 minutes),  or rice (more minutes) and add in mirepoix.
  • Saute greens (like kale, collards, dandelions, or chard) in oil and salt. Splash in a dash of lemon juice at the end and toss with mirepoix.
  • Shredded chicken served over mirepoix.
  • I’ve said mirepoix so many times it’s starting to sound weird. Is mirepoix a word or did I make it up? Not sure at this point.

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