Basic Tomato Sauce

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A good tomato sauce is the basis for so many dishes—pizza, pasta, chicken, and fish. Here is a delicious basic tomato sauce recipe. Marinara sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Featured in 14 Recipes That Make the Most Canned Tomatoes

A good tomato sauce is the foundation for so many wonderful dishes—pizza, pasta, chicken, and fish.

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Here is a recipe for a basic tomato sauce that starts with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery cooked in a little olive oil, to which garlic, tomatoes and seasonings are added.

Simple and delicious!

The sauce can be dressed up with mushrooms, sausage, olives, wine, and all manner of vegetables. What’s your favorite tomato sauce recipe?

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 1/2 cups of sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, including the green tops, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including the juice, or 1 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

1 Gently cook the onion, carrot, celery, and parsley: Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Stir to coat.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through.

2 Add garlic: Remove cover and add the minced garlic. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook for garlic for 30 seconds.

3 Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper, then simmer: Add the tomatoes, including the juice and shredding them with your fingers if you are using canned whole tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a low simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Optional, purée for smooth sauce: If you want you can push the sauce through a food mill, or purée it in a blender or with an immersion blender, to give it a smooth consistency.

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Basic Tomato Sauce

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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85 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Bill

    I wish SR would differentiate between a basic tomato sauce that is used for other recipes and a flavored marinara sauce or other pasta sauce. If you buy Hunts tomato sauce for instance, it is simply a base for other recipes. The above recipe is a marinara sauce.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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  2. Brad

    It’s Ok really. Not 2bad. Very red.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Verna Johnson

    I made this recipe last summer because I had a lot of fresh tomatoes. My family loved it so I know make it all summer as long as I have fresh tomatoes. Love it!!!!!!!!!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. Jean

    i didnt make the recipe, but i recomend grating the carrots
    finer, easier, better out come, cause carrots are kinda hard to cook down so grating it is just logical to do for a shotcut and better product

  5. Jackson

    Why not puree the veggy mixture bvefore you simmer the tomatoes?

    xxxxxyyyyy

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