Classic tomato sauce using soffritto (Classic Tomato sauces, part 2)

Once you have made the basic tomato sauce (see yesterday’s post,, you can decide how to flavour it.

The most classic of all tomato sauces or ‘sugo’ is one that includes chopped up carrot, onion and celery (this is known as a ‘soffritto’) in the tomato sauce (3 parts onion, 2 parts celery and 1 part carrot, that is the rule.  I sort of play it by ear and do not care too much if the proportions vary away from the 3-2-1 rule).  Fresh parsley or basil leaves are added towards the end of the cooking time – parsley during the winter months and basil when it is in season during the warmer part of the year.

Here are the ingredients: olive oil, celery, onion, carrot, parsley, basil and … because I just love it … whole pepper.  Ready and waiting on the right is the freshly made basic tomato sauce (i.e. the one that was described in yesterday’s post).

Here are the ingredients for a basic ‘soffritto’.  Put the chopped carrot, celery and onion into a good-sized casserole with plenty of olive oil.

Repeat: plenty of olive oil.  The secret to a good sugo is plenty of olive oil.  More olive oil, in other words, than you would normally think of as ‘enough’.

Turn the heat on at a fairly low temperature (the onions must not brown) and cook for about 6-8 or even 10 minutes — cooking time always depends on the amount (volume) of food in question.

When the soffritto has softened sufficiently, it’s time to add the tomato sauce.  Simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the basil leaves towards the end of the cooking time … so that they cook for about at least 5 minutes … and do tear them with your hands or bash them about a little to release their precious scent before putting them in.

Add salt and stir and taste.  Add a wee bit of sugar too if you think it needs it – it usually does.

At the very end, switch off the heat … and add more olive oil.  Stir.

This makes spaghetti or any other kind of pasta al pomodoro!  You can sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of the pasta with this tomato sauce and garnish with a sprig of basil leaves.

Keep this tomato sauce in a glass jar in the fridge until you need it … it can keep up to a week or so.

About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
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6 Responses to Classic tomato sauce using soffritto (Classic Tomato sauces, part 2)

  1. Dave Lester says:

    I am glad i found your site. Do you know about I am an American living near Padova for the past 7 years, married to an Italian woman and I have a blog that sometimes has recipes, and I talk about the differences in food tastes between regions of Italy, etc. I am now following your blog. My blog is below…Thanks, Dave Lester

    • Ciao David, and thank you for your thumbs up. I do know Coquinaria, yes, and I think I even participated in a debate over carbonara once, and think it’s a great forum. I’ve not had a chance to visit it often, life has been busy for a couple of years now, but there you go. I have just had a look at your blogspot, love it!, and saw your mention of John Dickie’s ‘Delizia’. I read the book all in one go some years ago and, whilst the research is definitely there, it’s his attitude I found frustrating and highly irritating. I thought it was just me but then I an Italian whose cultural background and education are impeccable, had reason to question his portrayal of Artusi, for instance, not to mention the ommission of details that would have filled in some gaps in a more appropriate way. I find his condescending attitude to be at odds with the cultural appropriation that he unwittingly brings to his writing – and you can’t have it both ways. Italian food is what it is – to my mind the best. And I adore food from other countries too, please note. I grew up in the Indian Subcontinent, in Iran, Lebanon and Cyrus (unfortunately I have never been to Turkey! can’t wait) and love Thai food too. So it’s not that. And I grew up in boarding school in England during the late sixties/early seventies when institutional food, which is never any good anyway wherever you go, was frankly vile. To me, it was as if Dickie was pissed off at Italians for being proud of their food; pissed off that Italian food got so much admiration world wide. He was out to show us all that the Emperor had no clothes, if you looked closely. Well, that may be true – Italian food did in fact come together over centuries, and with plenty of foreign influence, and only recently after unification. So what? Apart from Yorkshire pudding, the best English cooked food is French originally or Jewish – including smoked salmon and fish and chips. I find people like Dickie do more harm than good and detract from what good, real food is all about – our humanity. I lost a dear friend last summer and we would have deep conversations over this topic (you might want to take a look at his posts – So glad you ‘found’ me, and look forward to meeting you in real life one day. Thank you!

  2. Francesca Tate says:

    Hi, Missing from your ingredients is a key root veggie: GARLIC! I’m Italian and would never dream of making any kind of sauce without garlic. (Sometimes I substitute fennel for the celery and I use more than one variety of basil.)

  3. BERNADETTE says:

    I can smell that heavenly sauce across the ocean. Brava.

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