Authentic Old World Puerto Rican Sofrito

Authentic Old World Puerto Rican Sofrito

Sofrtio Recipe

 

What is Sofrito? First, you must understand that Puerto Rican food came from it mix of its Spaniard conquistadors, African slaves, and native Taíno roots. And while it’s quite similar to other Hispanic cuisines, Puerto Rican food still has unique flavors, aromas and blends.

Sofrito is a blend of vegetables and Latin herbs used to season. What is sofrito used for? It’s used in a lot of things. Beans, stews, rices, etc. No Puerto Rican dish is complete without the infamous sofrito. A concoction of fresh roasted garlic, onions, sweet aji, onions, recao, cilantro, red bell pepper and spices. Sofrito is used as the base of any and just about every Puerto Rican dish.

Now, Fun Facts…

There is a BIG misconception about sofrito. Traditionally, there is NO TOMATOES IN SOFRITO. I don’t care where you saw it, what PR based site you got the recipe from or who’s mothers used it, there is NO TOMATOES USED IN SOFRITO, PERIOD! Same goes for green bell peppers. Don’t use it, ever! Wonder why your sofrito doesn’t smell like your grandmothers? It’s because you used tomato’s and green bell peppers and you probably didn’t roast the vegetables either.

As time goes by generations come and go, we lose grip of our roots. We get lazy and want things done the quick and easy way. Love your food. Take the time to prepare your foods properly and pass down traditions. Who but us is left to pass on the torch? If lose it, so will our kids, and so will our heritage. As one of my good friends Kim said to me yesterday “Food is the best physical memory you can have of someone. Food is made with love and it nourishes and comforts you. Be blessed that you can pass on a legacy of food to your children and they can pass on the same legacy of food to theirs” Sofrito is about passing on a legacy people. Our ancestors left this little special recipe for us to pass on to our children.

So here I bring to you, a Puerto Rican Sofrito recipe that has been passed down to me from my grandmother, Doña Margarita Echevarria may her soul rest in peace, I miss you abuelita! This recipe was passed down from her mothers, mothers, mothers, mothers, mother. Which makes this recipe well over a CENTURY years old. You can’t get more authentic than that! ;)

The only change I’m making is using a food processor. Traditionally, this is supposed to be pounded in a Pilon.

Let’s get your ingredients…

Sofrito Ingredients

This is the ORIGINAL Sofrito ingredients.

**PLEASE NOTE*** YOU CAN NOW PURCHASE ALL THESE INGREDIENTS AND THIS SOFRITO FRESH MADE IN MY ONLINE STORE: ThePoshLatinCookShop.com

Ingredients:

  • One Large Red Bell Pepper. Don’t you dare use a jar of roasted peppers! Not in my recipe, do not insult our ancestors! Follow instructions!
  • One Large Yellow Onion
  • 14 Aji dulce
  • 1 head of garlic (roasted) You can do this by drenching the garlic head in olive oil, wrap it in aluminum foil and throw in the oven for 30 min at 350. Skin will just peel right off
  • 1/4 cup PITTED Alcaparrado
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 20 Recao Leaves – Some people call this culantro. Can typically be found in Latin or Asian markets.
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Ground Toasted Coriander Seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Citric Acid – my grandma used the juice of one lemon

If you prefer to just purchased this sofrito ready made, just go to my store! Made fresh everyday!

 

Step 1 – THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. It’s been lost through the newer generations of misinformed people. Ever wonder why Mexican Salsa tastes so good? It’s because they roast the vegetables. ROAST THE VEGETABLES PEOPLE!

Peel the onion and cut into 4 parts, cut top off red bell pepper and discard seeds, cut tops off aji peppers.

Roast Sofrito Vegetables

Step 2 – Chop up and put all the ingredients in a food processor.

Sofrito MixDon’t forget to add the spices

Sofrito spices

Step 3 – Process for about 1 min or until all the vegetables are at a consistency like picture below.

Sofrito Authentic

Sofrito Authenic 2

Step 4 - Storing your Sofrito… Some people like storing their sofrito in ice cube trays, my grandmother too. Just please, for the sake of sanitary and possible food contamination with God knows what. Use an ice cube try with a lid or top. I found this one at Bed Bath Beyond and I think it cost just a couple of bucks. You don’t want your sofrito developing freezer burns, that’s just yukkkkkkkie!

SONY DSC

 

Tip… This is what I do. After the sofrito is frozen I take it out of the tray’s and store it in a freezer safe zip lock bag. After all, it’s about keeping everything fresh right?

Frozen Authentic Sofrito

 

In Johnny words “Sofrito, Cuchifrito, Que Se Joda Un Poquito!”

ENJOY!!!!! And leave a comment when you use this recipe. I want to hear everyones success! Buen Provecho!

Click on the Following links for yummy recipes featuring SOFRITO!

Pastelón – Sweet Plantain Puerto Rican Lasagna

Pollo Guisado – Puerto Rican Braised Stewed Chicken

Moro de Habichuelas – Rice and Beans (Dominican Style)

 


Comments

  1. I love your dedication to authenticity. And your attitude. I’m not so crazy about having to print out all the comments and everything else when all I want is the recipe. How ’bout a “printer version” button?

    I found the culantro right around the corner, but the aji dulce are all but non-existent in San Francisco. The FB Farmer’s market chili/pepper guy says he might have some in two weeks, early in the day, but that the guy who gave him the seeds takes 14# of his crop off the top (for sofrito, no doubt). It’d be nice if aji dulce were as common as habanero.

  2. Hello Ms. Elena,
    I’m twenty years old. I absolutely love this recipe. I just have one question, how do you roast the veggies exactly? Do you use olive oil and a frying pan? I have been cooking since the age of five with my mom, and believe wholeheartedly that cooking is a family practice of love :). I just want to follow this recipe to the letter.

  3. Priscilla I. says:

    Thank you for the great recipe…. I just made it and followed step by step and I was happy when my boyfriend approved as he is from the island of PR and recalls how it should taste just could not recall what went in it. My family has taught me all wrong and I wondered why my sofrito didn’t taste right due to the wrong ingredients of tomato and green peppers. Thank you again!

  4. Kristina says:

    I did this recipe and it came out great!!! everybody in my family loved it and I made just enough to last a whole month.

  5. Michael says:

    I used roasted poblanos (due to my own poor planning), chile de Arbol, and tropea onions. It came out awesome. I’ll definitely get the right peppers next time. I used it with some pork stock to braise a shoulder. I picked apart my pork when it was fork tender, strained and reduced the braising liquid. Added more sofrito and my reduced sauce to the picked meat. I then served it with tostones, morcilla(or a version of, basically blood chorizo, we had a little to much hanging around) and a salad of lambs quarter, culantro, mizuna, baby kale, peas and lime pickled red onion. It was a sorta-rican dish.

  6. My mother-in-law taught me how to make most Puerto Rican dishes and seasonings from fresh ingredients; your website has one of the most authentic and detailed info available. BTW – I’ve been making not only fresh sofrito and freezing in ice cube trays for about 20 years – and ‘case I’m Italian I also freeze my fresh basil w/garlic and oil and cilantro mixtures – been doing this for years. Thank you for your wonderful website!

  7. Kristina says:

    I always thought it strange when I read some recipes adding tomatoes to the sofrito. It never made sense to me. Now you have confirmed what I always found strange and didn’t know if I should include the tomatoes in my recipe making.

  8. Would the one with the bell pepper be referred to as Recaito?
    The Posh Latin Cook recently posted on her blog…My Profile

  9. Elena,

    I found this recipe when I googled authentic sofrito, because, well frankly, I wanted an authentic recipe. That is what I got! Thank you so much for this. I loved that the veggies were first roasted. I used it as a marinade. It gave our grilled skirt steak a great flavor that brought me back to our visit to Puerto Rico last year.

    I am definitely a fan of your blog and look forward to trying many more recipes, as I love Puerto Rican cuisine. I did see that many Puerto Rican recipes called for green bell pepper, but you sounded pretty serious and knowledgeable when you said not to use green peppers or tomatoes. So I took your advice and I’m glad I did. I can’t wait to try this with chicken and also in a rice dish!

    Thanks again.

    Sherri @ The Kitchen Prescription
    The Posh Latin Cook recently posted on her blog…My Profile

  10. I live in GA and I cannot find ajicitos. How can I go about substituting them?

    • Hi, thank you for your inquiry.

      Lucky for you I make it easy for you to find ajicitos. You can purchase them from my store and have them at your door within 2 days. Just go to theposhlatincookshop.com and click on aji dulce

  11. Took your advice on roasting all the vegetables for Puerto Rican Sofrito and the aroma was so beautiful & stronger and the food had more flavor. Thank you:) Now I’m trying to get this green hot sauce that this Ecuadorean Restaurant makes. I know it has avocado in it and it looks like sofrito. I put on the steak with onions, would you know what this sauce is?

  12. Hi Elena, his recipe sounds awesome and i can’t wait to try it. where can i find the aji peppers?
    thanks for sharing!

  13. What temperature and how long do you roast the veggies? Same as the garlic? Thanks:)

  14. This sure looks like an authentic recipe! How long is the sofrito good for in the freezer?

  15. Melissa Gonzalez says:

    Love love love this recipe!!! Never ever buying “sofrito” again! I can officially say “my” sofrito is better than my moms! Lol thank you sooooooo much! Did I mention? My Dominican boyfriend prefers my sofrito over his aunts sazon? Lol #winning

  16. Do you peel the skins from the vegetables after you roast them for your sofrito?

  17. debbie inacay says:

    now that i”ve found you! I love cooking. I love trying new recipes. If i have tasted something new, its either I try to ask for the recipe or just simply guess what” in the food by savoring the flavor. Our food back home in the fareast are inspired by Spanish and chinese cooking.
    Today I learned about culantro. My friend was telling me of using this for her pernil recipe but he couldnt tell me the name, she said its a long leaf used to make sofrito.
    Thanks and i”ll let you know how my pernil comes out. love love love

  18. Hi Elena,
    Been a while since I posted.
    I still have some cubes left of the original sofrito batch I made months ago.
    Still awesome. : )
    I’ve given cubes some to friends, and all of sudden I am a Rockstar!
    Lately, I have been experimenting with tomatillo fresco, incorporating it into my chimichurri recipe (tomatillo really loves lime, as it turns out), so I thought I’d try it out on Sofrito. Just a small amount, to add a hint of tartness to offset the pungency of the recao and garlic. I roasted the slices along with the rest of the veggies, and I think it is a winner. It definitely adds volume to the mix, which I like. The trick is not too add too much, else it overpowers the recao.
    Thought I’d share.
    Saludos,
    John Bury

  19. Negrita From The Bronx says:

    Thank you, it turned out great.

  20. Alexandra Federov says:

    This right here is the stuff. I just whipped up a batch exactly as directed and it’s a keeper. I let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours and when I dipped my finger in I was tempted to grab my organic corn chips and snack like it was salsa. SO GOOD!!
    I am personally not a freezer I’m a canner. I plan to try a batch of this minus the olive oil plus a TINY bit of water to thin it out. My only real fear is water separating, but so what I can still work with that! If it happens I will pour the excess water off when I open the jar and stir in some olive oil.
    l live in Uptown NYC and have a few NYRican friends and also lived in Carolina, PR for a year. My Rican friends who (or their moms) make sofrito from scratch use basically the same ingredients but not one of them roasts the veggies. The key! I have been unable to find a sofrito recipe that lends the deep and more complex flavors I found in dishes in PR. Until now! Thanks a million for sharing your recipe! Tomorrow I’m trying out your Dominican sofrito-sazon recipe, I know it’s going to be phenom.

  21. Evan Perez says:

    Elena, I made this Sofrito today, and I must say that this is the most amazing sofrito I have ever tasted. Thank you for having this wonderful blog !!! We really appreciate your hard work and sharing these amazing recipes.

    Thanks,

    Evan Perez

  22. Hi, I see in the picture of ingredients you added sea salt. I looked at the ingredient lost over and over and I don’t see the amount of salt to put, is it somewhere else or missing? Lol maybe I’m blind. Excited to try this sofrito recipe!!

  23. this is the first time I come across your page as I was looking for an authentic recipe for a friend and was tired of coming across so many recipes listing tomatoes. My parents never made their sofrito using tomatoes, ever. I had never thought of roasting the vegetables before. I always saw my family put it in the blender raw. And I would see them stew it or sofreirlo when cutting up fresh sofrito on the spot for cooking if they didnt have any pre-made. I dont have an cast iron skillets and the closest I have to a grill is a small George Forman grill. Can I use that to roast the vegetables in? I want to give this a try one day. I didnt realize you could store the sofrito after having roasted or sofreir the ingredients first. I though that was only if you were using them to cook immediately. I will definitely have to try both and see how I like it. I haven’t tried freezing it yet either. I just keep it in jars in the fridge. Haven’t had any problems as of yet. My parents always made sofrito vs. recao. I might give the recao a try too and maybe try combining them in my cooking. I am also looking forward to trying out the fresh sazon recipe as well. I also read somewhere you can make your own dry sazon packets by getting the ground spices used in it to avoid the msg and chemicals in the goya sazon packets. What do you think about that idea as well? If you a recipe for dry sazon seasoning that would be great too.

  24. So I just followed all your directions and i almost just wanted to eat a spoonful of the Sofrito because it smelled so good. I was so excited i didnt even cook with it yet because i wanted to post a comment. It looked the same as your picture and i am about to use it on some chicken. Will keep you posted :)

  25. Elena, I love your website. I’ve been searching the web for puerto rican recipes like crazy ever since I got on this puerto rican food kick last week. I haven’t found anything like this! And by that I mean AUTHENTIC PR recipes! I love how you value your family’s heritage and tradition. I enjoy reading about your childhood memories of cooking with your mom. You capture the magical experience of cooking and what its all about: love for your family. Not only can we trust that these are authentic PR recipes, but the fact that you are generously sharing your family’s recipes with us . . . All I can say is thank you!!! I can’t wait for you to add more of your family’s cherished recipes :-) besitos!

  26. John Bury says:

    Hmm.
    I’ve got some churrasco in the fridge that needs marinating….
    Will try that today on the grill…
    Another thought.
    Grilling the sofrito veggies in the grill with a smoker box filled with hickory….
    Worth a try…

    • Definitely worth a try! I have done it without the smoke. It was much more successful than roasting on cast iron. It’s pretty cold here in New York. As soon as I can fire up my outside grill I will go for it! ☺

      • John Bury says:

        Yup, know what you mean…
        I can’t go without grilling for 4 months, so I just fire it up year round.
        You get used to it, it is all about keeping the lid closed to keep the heat in…
        And having a high BTU grill; that helps too…

  27. John Bury says:

    Yeah, the peppers and garlic were gooey which means they were cooked thru.
    Maybe I’ll just add more raw garlic, lime and recao to zing it back. I like the roasted pepper taste as it is…
    : )

    • Here’s a little recipe. 2 sofrito cubes, 1 recao cube, a cup of orange juice and melted butter. Cook until it boils. Let it cool. Use it as an overnight marinade for chicken. Roast it the next day.

  28. John Bury says:

    Hola Elena,
    Nice blog!
    I have been grinding my own recaito for a while now, but I have to try pre roasting before grinding; that’s a new twist for me.
    On that same thought, I’ve seen that very few sofrito recipes (notably Carmen Aboy Valdejuly’s “Practical Sofrito”) call for stewing the mix BEFORE freezing. I always thought this was done because ham was added to the mix.
    Have you ever seen or tried this? I am about to try it with a new batch of recaito I ground yesterday.
    Saludos desde Connecticut!

    • Hola John, thanks for stopping by.

      I am familiar with Carmen Aboy Valdejuly. She is another fellow Bori from the island. The reason she stews the sofrito is the same reason our ancestors and I roast the vegetables. I find her method to be short on ‘smoke’ flavor. When you stew, the flavors just blend together. But roasting makes the sofritos and recaitos very pungent in flavor. My husband refuses to touch a sofrito cube as he says “the smell sinks into his skin and won’t leave for hours” The hams used are already cooked and cured. I do not use ham in my sofrito because not every recipe calls for the use of ham, therefore, I just cube them up really small and keep them in the freezer, using sparingly as I need. I just add it to the sofri’s while it’s cooking on the pot before adding other ingredients. So I take it when you say ‘ground my recaito’ you are using a pilon?

      Thanks for stopping by and feel to check out The Sofrito Chronicles where every week I bring you a different Sofrito recipe from around the world.

      Best… Elena
      The Posh Latin Cook on Facebook

      • John Bury says:

        Elena,
        I go back to her book to revisit/reconfirm recipes and methods that I’ve seen done in person by my parents. A classic.
        I usually use a food processor like you; I own pilones, but have not found a good wooden one, de la vieja guardia, as they say. I am currently looking for a heavy duty processor to grind all those pesky ají seeds; not a fan of those….
        I have seen first hand all the old school methods, but what I try to go for is having authentic “from scratch” taste everyday, with minimum prep time; which means a lot of freezing, and coming up with your own tricks. Things like juicing and freezing onion and garlic go a long way to accomplish this.
        I grind and freeze salt pork or bacon on a meat grinder, and use cubes of them to add to my stews right after drizzling oil on the caldero.
        I will definitely try “preroasting” today and compare to “post-stewing”!
        Cheers,
        John

        • What about removing the seeds beforehand? :/

          Please come back here and let me know how everything came out!

          Do you have a blog?

          • John Bury says:

            I usually work my Recaito in larger batches. I seed larger peppers, because there might only be 8-10 of them. But when you have 20-30 small ajies to seed, with such small seeds, it is not fun or time effective.
            I just run the ajies by themselves on my processor a few times, until most of seeds are gone, never 100% gone though.
            I will revert with my findings, cuenta con eso. : )
            I don’t have a blog, though I use several for research.

          • Sabes que? I make large batches as well. You ever thought of investing in a Vitamix or Nutri-Bullet? Those two blenders pulverize the seeds.

          • John Bury says:

            Hola Elena,

            I worked up a batch of sofrito yesterday using your recipe (kinda, I eyeballed the quantities, but the ingredients were the same). The aroma around the kitchen and the house whilst the peppers, onions and garlic cloves were being oven roasted was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Still lingering around this morning. : ) They were roasted until they were semi gooey and and slightly charred.

            After food processing, the mix came out looking like your pics, so I guess my guesstimate on quantities was similar to the recipe. I did puree the mix thoroughly, and it came out more as a paste than a runny salsa-type consistency.

            Usually, I like to let my homemade recaito rest on the fridge for 24 hours or so before freezing, so that the flavours settle. Como comerse un plato de arroz y habichuelas al otro dia, los sabores se integran mejor… But I did stew a quick pot of gandules to sample the sofrito right away.

            My initial impression was that it is very flavourful and savory, but I was missing a bit of the zing and high notes of the raw onions, recao and garlic. You know, that savory-herby-garlicky kick that lets you know you are in territorio Boricua. I did use a lot of garlic and red peppers, but I suspect that the roasting took away that zing. Or that maybe I over roasted them. However, the stew did have more of that integrated “2nd day” taste and vibe to it. This was a nice surprise. My guess is that pre roasting accelerates that taste integration.

            So I am thinking that for my own personal taste, the ideal situation would be to combine one cube of this sofrito, and one cube of regular, uncooked, raw recaito. This might be a good compromise between “2nd day stew” and “zing” taste. I’ll be trying this combination!

            Saludos,
            John

          • Hi john!

            Thanks for the update. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe.

            When I make sofrito, yes the aromas stay lingering around the house for a very long time. I too store the sofrito before freezing. I feel this brings all the flavors together.

            On the roasting. I believe you over roasted just a tad. I usually just roast until every part is black charred but not fully cooked. Almost seared. (Outside roasted, inside raw)

            Next time try roasting less time. I will tell you my sofrito does have that zing. You might want to add a pinch of citric acid to bring it back.

            On using both sofri’s… I do that. I add one cube of each. Not every recipe calls for it. But I find in soups. I can’t help myself and yes, I do use both.

            E.

      • John Bury says:

        Elena,
        The roasted peppers and onions in your picture appear pre-seared….Do you pan fry the peppers before you roast them? And what temp do you roast at and for how long?
        Thinking of using the convection oven setting to accelerate the roasting…
        Thanks!

        • Hello again, Sir!
          I do not fry the peppers or onions. I fire roast both on a cast-iron right on my stove for about 10 min. frequently rotating the vegetables.
          The Posh Latin Cook recently posted on her blog…My Profile

  29. The colors look great. Can’t wait to try this.

  30. Simply INCREDIBLE….. I could even do this. I thought they were ice pops.. great job Mama.

    Can we market this SOFRITO maybe GOYA will pick this up.

  31. Wow Elena.. Aside from the recipe itself, i REALLY enjoy reading your underlying back stories about where the food originates. And once again, you made it impossible for anyone to mess up with all the step by step instructions and photos! I can’t wait to make this!!
    How many sofrito cubes will typically be used in a typical dish?

    • Thanks for the sweet comment Jen. <3

      Typically, I use 2. But some recipes call for 3 cubes. It really depends on what you’re making. I’ve had some recipes where I only use 1 cube. For my adobo sauce, I use 4 cubes. So really, it’s just depends on what you’re making.

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