Prep Time  25minutes
Cook Time  120minutes
Total Time  145minutes

Basic Tomato Sauce

So, a basic tomato sauce is one of the five mother sauces of French cooking.  The mother sauces are called such, because they are the core, or start, to so many other sauces.  And true to form, there’s dozens, if not hundreds of different directions you can take this sauce in by adding various meats, vegetables, herbs and spices.


  • 2 Large Cans of Tomatoes – I like to use whole, skinned plum or roma
  • 3 – 5 garlic cloves minced
  • One Onion
  • Small carrot shredded
  • 1 small can of Tomato pasta
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of red wine
  • Olive oil
  • Basil – a couple tablespoons fresh, chopped
  • Oregano – a couple tablespoons fresh, chopped
  • Sugar or honey to taste

The key to the recipe

I find that the key to this recipe is in the sauté of the vegetables and the tomato paste.  Tomatoes by nature are fairly acidic, and “light” in flavor.  By letting the onions and carrots cook down you bring out their natural sweetness as a counter balance to the acid in the tomatoes.  Then by sautéing the tomato paste to evaporate even more water out of an already concentrated product, you again develop some of the deeper, darker flavors, that will come through in the final sauce as a longer and more robust finish.

Sautéing the vegetables

  • In a hot pan or pot add the olive oil, diced onions, and the shredded carrot (use a cheese grater to shred the carrot)
  • Add a few pinches of salt, to help draw out the moisture and toss to coat everything
  • Add the minced garlic
  • Stirring occasionally, let the vegetables sweat until they are well cooked, but short of browning

Adding the tomato paste and wine

  • After the vegetables have softened, add in the can of tomato paste and sauté the paste along with the vegetables until the paste “cooks out” a bit, you’ll notice the color becomes more rusty/brown
  • Once the paste is cooked down, add about one half to one cup of red wine.  Don’t use cooking wine.  You don’t have to grab the top shelf stuff, but you should definitely use something you enjoy drinking
  • Let the wine reduce down by at least half, which leaves the flavor but removes the alcohol and some of the bitter taste

Adding the tomatoes, and the herbs

  • Crush the whole tomatoes in your hands and add them to the pan
  • Bring everything to a boil and let them simmer for an hour
  • Add the basil and oregano, if you’re using dried, you can cut the amount you’re using by half
  • Taste the sauce, and if you find its bitter, add a bit of honey or sugar

Let ‘er cook

Essentially everything at this point is in the sauce, and you’re just looking for the tomatoes to break down and the flavors to combine.  You can let the sauce cook for several hours, and it will get better over time.  I generally like mine to go at least 2 hours from this point.  The only thing you should have to do from here on out, is to check for seasoning and adjust the salt, pepper and maybe the sugar, as you go.


Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Comments (11 )

Tom K
October 14th, 2012 - 7:30pm
I like the addition of the carrot (compared to other sauces I've made). Along with sugar (to offset acidic tomatoes) I added some butter.
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