Sofrito is what gives a lot of Mexican (and other Latino) food its distinctive taste, much like the combination of carrots, onions, celery and wine in French cuisine. Spoonfulls in rice or bean dishes have a profound effect.
Usually, I buy sofrito without a hint of shame. Goya bottles a perfectly respectable product available in the ethnic sections of all our local supermarkets. Every now and then, though, it's fun to make your own -- and more cost-effective, too.
I'd like to tell you that I learned this recipe from some little Puerto Rican grandmother I met once upon a time. But, no, I just did some Googling and approximating. I was happy with the result, but I make no claims whatsoever regarding authenticity.
The below recipe makes a whole lot, and it would be the ideal sort of thing to freeze in ice trays, taking out cubes as you need them.
- 3 cans of tomatoes
- 2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
- 2 small onions, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of cilantro, you guessed it, roughly chopped.
- 1 dash of ground cumin (no chopping here)
- 1 splash of rice vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Sweat the onions in the oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. As they soften, stir in the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the splash of vinegar, bring to a boil, drop to a simmer and cook, covered, for an hour or so -- check periodically to make sure it isn't drying out and burning.
Splash in the vinegar and work the mixture over with a hand-blender. You don't need this to be perfectly smooth, but you do want the surviving chunks to be small.
Simmer for a bit longer, stirring (and be careful, as it will start shooting up mini-geysers of molten tomato) until thickened. Let cool and store until needed,