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Basic Tomato Sauce


Today’s recipe is for a very Basic sort of tomato sauce. Obviously, the most basic version of a tomato sauce would consist only of tomatoes simmered down to a sauce (and this can be terrific with tomatoes fresh from the vine) but although we are getting a bit more complex here, the result is a plain sauce that contains no strong seasonings (such as oregano, for instance) which might limit its uses to certain types of dishes. Rather, the Basic Sauce that results here can be used standalone, or as a base for more complex preparations.


  • 2 x 750ml cans crushed Tomatoes;
  • 1 cup finely diced Onion;
  • ½ cup each of finely diced tomato and celery;
  • ¼ cup minced Garlic;
  • ½ cup good quality Olive Oil.
  • Pinch each Salt and Pepper;



Our basic sauce begins with the use of some finely chopped vegetable ingredients that will add many layers of depth to the final product. The blend of chopped onion, carrot, and celery is known as a ‘mirepoix’ in French cookery, ‘refogado’ in Portuguese, and ‘trito’ in Italian. You can vary the proportions of each to suit your taste but I find it best to be discreet with the carrot as overuse mars the final result.



Heat the oil in a pot over low heat and then add the veggies. This may seem like quite a lot of oil at first but the result will be good



The idea, here, is to first sweat the ingredients and then slowly cook everything until all is soft and the aroma becomes sweet. The process should take twenty or thirty minutes and you want to let the onion color a little but not brown.



Now add the tomatoes, breaking up any large pieces, if necessary, and allow the pot to simmer for an hour or so. Once the tomatoes are really starting to break down, you can leave it as is, or use a wand blender and make a nice smooth sauce out of it all.



The pot in the very first picture shows the sauce after it has been pureed with a hand ‘whizzer’. The result is fairly smooth but, while the ‘rustic quality’ will be fine in all sorts of cases, you may also want a ‘creamier’ consistency for certain types of sauces. In the picture above, I passed the sauce through a small strainer, rubbing with a spoon so that only the more resilient fibrous pieces remained. You lose a little in volume when you do this, but the end product is much more refined … Either way is good though!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is very close to the basic sauce I make but I like to add some red peppers and a little cinnamon. I use Italian tomatoes from a can. I don’t ‘whiz’ it, just crush roughly with a spoon. This I then use as, eg, the first layer for pizza or the basis for a ‘bolognese’ style sauce for pasta. To make a soup I increase the amount of red peppers, add either vegetable or chicken stock to make it a lighter cream consistency, ‘whiz’ it then serve with soured cream. To vary the taste I may add more cinnamon or some paprika, perhaps smoked.

    January 4, 2017
    • I’ve not tried Cinnamon… must give it a try.

      January 4, 2017
  2. Greta Kirstin Strand #

    Thank you both, Sybaritica and Grumpytyke. We home “chefs” always appreciate go-to sauces like this. Perfect for jarring, too. (canning the easy way.) Uses for such a substantial sauce are boundless.I have my weekend cut out for me.

    January 4, 2017
    • I’ve only canned Tomato sauce when I have had access to lots of tomatoes fresh off the vine… sadly, that’s not an option for me where I live now.

      January 4, 2017
  3. Lovely job John. WE have difficulty getting good tasty tomatoes here in Ireland. They are available in the summer but are eye wateringly expensive. I love to make a good tomato sauce when we are holidaying in mainland Europe where great tomatoes are available and priced sensibly.

    January 5, 2017

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