Chefs often speak about building flavor to add complexity and richness. Some of the most delicious recipes originate with a mirepoix or one of its cousins from around the world.

Mirepoix is the combination of onion, carrot, and celery that forms the backbone of French dishes. The vegetables are diced and then gently cooked in a fat of some sort. The goal is to sweat the vegetables just enough to soften their flavor but not to caramelize.

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The classic two is two parts onion to part  each carrot and celery. This gentle procedure christens almost every soup, stew, and sauce.

This magical starting place has many names and vegetable combinations, depending on the country. All begin with simple, readily available ingredients that are the base for lively, interesting dishes.