Mushroom Sugo

The onions cook for a long time, during which you can prep the rest of the vegetables if you want to save some time. If you are using dry herbs, use half as much. The mincing is important, as the sauce is not strained or puréed.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and minced (yielding about 2 cups minced onion)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced carrots)
  • 3 celery ribs, minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced celery)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 bunch parsely, minced (yielding 1/3 cup loosely packed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh marjoram (we didn't have marjoram growing so we used fresh oregano instead, which has a similar flavor)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 beef bouillon cube (use vegetable bouillon cube for vegetarian option)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Soak dry mushrooms in water: Place dry mushrooms to soak in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water. Set aside.

soak dry mushrooms for mushroom sugo

2 Slowly cook minced onions until deep golden: Heat olive oil in a medium, thick-bottomed pot (4 or 5 quart) over medium heat. Add the minced onions and stir to coat with the olive oil.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a deep golden color, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat lower if necessary to keep the onions from drying out.

3 Add carrots, celery, garlic, herbs in stages: Add the minced carrots and cook for 5-6 more minutes. Add the celery and cook until soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Cook for 4-5 minutes more.

4 Remove the porcini from the soaking liquid, reserving the liquid. The easiest way to do this we found is to pour the porcini and soaking liquid through a coffee filter, into a bowl or measuring cup. This helps remove any grit that may be lingering in the soaking liquid.

Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the vegetables in the pot.

5 Add wine: Push the vegetables to one side of the pot and increase the heat to high. Add the 1/2 cup of red wine to the side of the pot without the vegetables and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes.

6 Add remaining ingredients and simmer: Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups of the mushroom soaking liquid, the bouillon cube (break it up with your fingers as you add it), and the bay leaf to the pot.

Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Add ground black pepper to taste. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve over polenta or toss with ravioli or other pasta.

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  • Kayla

    This was a wonderful recipe! Thank you so much for introducing me to my new favorite sauce!


  • rose

    made this recently and LOVED IT. was skeptical as it cooked because the mushroom aroma was kind of strong (i used probably 1.5 ounces of dried shrooms because the packages were under an ounce and i wanted to make sure the flavor was pronounced so i had to open two), but it was great. we added duck legs because…well why not…but mostly because i searched sugo recipes online and quite a few of them had shredded duck in them, so i figured corti’s recipe could easily handle the addition. so tasty. served it over goat cheese/parm polenta and it was out of this world.
    btw, have been long time fans of both you and corti bro’s, and it was such a treat to see his family recipe on your site.

    Thanks Rose! So glad you liked it. ~Elise


  • Janet

    Used dried shitake since those were available, but this was SO good! Worth all the time it takes; definitely a keeper and a ‘forwarder’. Thanks, Elise.


  • Megan McCann

    I just spent a very satisfying afternoon making this lovely dish. I love it and I will make it again and again. I am serving over polenta, making an elegant, yet hearty, meal. Just delicious. Thanks so much for posting!


  • Ana

    I made this last night at it was delicious. I actually served it over meatballs with cous cous and it was a big hit. I ate it for lunch today and it re-heated quite well.

    One thing,I’m a huge mushroom fan and I felt like the mushroom flavor wasn’t bold enough in the dish, perhaps I should put in more porcini’s next time to kick up the flavor? It seems like I did everything else right.

    Thanks for the great recipe :)

    Sure! You could easily increase the amount of porcini. ~Elise


  • Carroll

    Made this for dinner last night and I can’t rave enough! I’m changing the name to Mushroom Ambrosia. This will definitely become a regular in the dinner rotation. Thank you! Thank you!


  • Emm

    I’m lucky enough to have porcinis growing wild on my property and I am always looking for great ways to use them. This sounds great! I don’t suppose you know what the fresh equivalent to 1 oz. of dried is…?

    I don’t know the fresh equivalent. I do know that drying the porcinis concentrates the flavors. So even when I go mushroom hunting and happen to find some porcinis, we’ll end up drying most of them for future use. ~Elise

  • Garrett

    Elise, this kicked so much butt. I could eat this with a spoon.


  • Janet

    I forgot to mention that I used reconstituted parlsey (since I forgot fresh when I went to the grocery) and vegetable base in place of the red wine and buillion. I served it over polenta, as suggested (fried–not soft), with squash patties.

  • nadia

    Hi Elise,
    I love this recipe! I’ll try to do it this week, but my question is how much time i can keep it in the fridge after making it?
    We’re only two at home!!

    Thanks!! :)

    As long as any typical pasta sauce, about 5-6 days or so. ~Elise

  • Jess

    Hi Elise, do you think this recipe can be made in a slow cooker?

    Perhaps step 6, the last step, could be done in a slow cooker. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • Anita

    I very much want to try this, but would like to avoid the bouillon cube. I generally don’t use it, and would prefer not to buy a jar just for one cube. Would you have any suggestions? (Other than begging a cube off someone at work – that’s Plan B.)

    I think I’ve already answered this question. Just add salt and more seasonings to taste. You’ll likely need more salt than you expect if you leave out the bouillon cube. ~Elise

  • Inga

    What a wonderful recipe, I printed it immediately and can’t wait to try it for my in-laws! They are from the coast of Croatia near Italy and use the word Sugo for all of their wonderful sauces. I’m sure this will impress!

  • Shannon

    I was wondering what you thought of using a food processor to chop (mince) the ingredients?

    I think if you were careful not to overdo it, it would work fine and be an excellent time saver. ~Elise

  • henry

    haven’t tried it but would love to know if all of the other veggies overpower the wonderful flavor of the mushrooms…seems like too much going on when you are a mushroom freak! thanks

    The dried porcinis are packed with flavor, so no, they do not get overwhelmed by the other vegetables in my opinion. ~Elise

  • Julia Rynsard

    HI Elise – as always thank you so much for your recipes and the stories that go with them. I am in England so unsure of what you mean by tomato sauce: is it a commercial pasta sauce or something else, perhaps passata? I find the easiest way to mince is to use a food processor, pulsing the ingredients. I do this when making risotto too.
    Best wishes

    Hi Julia, here in the states you can find canned whole tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. You can also make some from scratch (here is our recipe for tomato sauce, just purée after making). ~Elise

  • Tom G.

    My first time commenting Elise. But I have have used many of your recipes, mostly to my delight and that of my household as well. This looks so good! I have “mushroom haters” in the house but would love to try this. To make a meal, what else would you suggest to serve along side of this?

    You mean to appease the mushroom haters? You could just offer a non-mushroom tomato pasta sauce with whatever you are serving. You can even leave out the mushrooms, add a can or two of crushed tomatoes and you’ll have a basic and good tomato sauce. ~Elise

  • Athena

    Elise, time and time again I continue to be impressed with and appreciative of your (and your dad’s) generosity of knowledge and attention to the reproducibility of your recipes. Thank you so much! I impress people all the time thanks to you!

    Thank you Athena, but if your comment is in regards to this recipe, I and my dad take absolutely no credit for it, other than to have made it, loved it, and asked permission of Darrell to publish it. Happy cooking! ~Elise

  • Lisa

    Looks amazing, and you had me right up until the boullion cube. Is there something that can be substituted for those of us who prefer not to use prepared food items? Reduced stock maybe? This looks really good, and I’d love to give it a go!

    Salt and more seasonings. ~Elise

  • S.

    I was feeling extra confident after making your galette and decided to give this one a go as well. It was delicious! I wanted to eat more and more, so good! Thank you so much for your recipes! :-)

  • Mary

    Elise, thanks so much for your recipes and the stories that go with them. I enjoy them all and hope you continue to share them with us for a long time to come.

    Thanks Mary, am hoping to! ~Elise

  • Jen

    This looks totally fantastic. Is there a substitute for the red wine?

    You could use stock. ~Elise

  • Katrina

    Yum! I love this!

  • yoko

    This looks like a wonderful alternative to bolognese. I love mushrooms– I’ll have to give this a try.

  • sheri

    I’m wondering what the difference is between a mince and a chop, since your dad isn’t here to demonstrate or ummm, “help” me.

    Well, I finely chopped the onions and then dad stepped in and chopped them more until they were minced. Honestly I think mincing and finely chopping are used interchangeably in recipes these days. I’ve even read that recipe writers use “finely chop” instead of “mince” because too many people don’t know what mince means. So, for guidance I would finely chop, and then finely chop them again. That would probably suit my dad just fine. And if you eat the sauce and think to yourself, “hmm, these veggies could have been more finely chopped,” you’ll have your answer. ~Elise

  • Linda

    Elise, this looks wonderful. I am going to make it first thing in the morning. The temperatures are dropping around here, and this will ease me into the 42 degrees we are supposed to get tomorrow. I’m thinking this over Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, girl. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Oh, and I’ll be sure to mince those onions….

  • Johann

    Would you advise against grating the vegetables? Some of us aren’t great at mincing onions…

    I wanted to be true to Darrell’s recipe which is why I wrote to mince. If I were short on time, I would try it with grating the onions, though probably not the carrots or celery. ~Elise

  • NOJuju

    Oh, I need to eat this! But I’m the only one in the house who will. I wonder how it stores/freezes. I have to have it.

  • Annemarie

    Do you think this would go well over quinoa? I’ve got some, but not sure what to do with it, and this looks really tasty.

    Sure! I think this would be great over quinoa. ~Elise