Spaghetti (or Pizza) Soup from The Best Ever Basic Tomato Sauce
Tomato Soup never sells at the school store. Ever. Now, Pizza Soup, well that is a whole other story. It sells out in minutes! There doesn’t need to be any difference: we have sold regular tomato soup to very happy students with pizza garnishings (basil and oregano mixed in) with a generous amount of shredded cheese on top and they rave for days about it and beg for more. But, rarely do I have regular tomato soup around at school. However, we always have our special homemade tomato sauce. With half of the batch puréed and the other half left chunky, a dollop of yogurt (homemade, of course) and the cheeses and basil… well, sing me a song, Piano Man! It is pure Rock ‘n Roll in a bowl for kids!
Look at it!
Man cannot live on bread alone. He needs tomato sauce. And, not just any tomato sauce. A tomato sauce that knocks your head back and opens your eyes wider as you taste it; a tomato sauce so full of fresh garden goodness that you feel healthy energy surge through you after the first bite; a tomato sauce that distills the essence of the quintessential Italian kitchen so well that you looks your footing and plop in the nearest chair. Now, that is tomato sauce. And, you shouldn’t bother with any other.
When I first decided to share my “secret” recipe with my students a few years back, I knew immediately that I had changed each one, forever. The peeling and the cleaning and the chopping, dicing and mincing were all met with quiet sighs as each rendered himself helpless to resist. I coached and kept up the pace and the passion and the enthusiasm: “”Stop, everyone! Look at this onion! Did you ever see such a perfectly sliced onion? Come on!! Standing O!” We cheered one another on through to completion… then, mise en place, good to go to the stove… and the magic started to happen. The aroma. The sizzle. The glistening of the fragrant vegetables transformed through this specific combination: onions, carrots, and celery (2:1:1) “The Holy Trinity“
“Stop! Stop! Everyone! Can you feel it? Can you hear it? Can you smell it? It’s a religious experience!!! The holy trinity is in our skillet!” And it was a religious experience. Students were stirring, breathing it in, tasting, and dropping to their knees. “Oooooohhhh! Mrs. Rodgers! You sure know how to make a good sauce. This is mighty tasty. I didn’t believe that carrots and celery were in a tomato sauce, but they make it so so so yummy!”
Nothing bonds people together: woman to man, mother to children, teacher to students – like food. It really is a religious experience. It is so empowering to to it yourself. “It’s not hard! It is work, but it is not hard! I can do it! I can do it! I cannot wait to get home and make my own!”
I cannot wait for you to either, sweetie.
And there is nothing like making your own. Nothing. Just look at that!
It smelled so good, I had to eat some. I never eat a bowl of tomato sauce, but a bowl of Pizza Soup with my homemade yogurt embraced by the thick warmth of the Holy Trinity? Now, that is an entirely different matter. MMMM MMMM good! (NOT Campbell’s Good: Homemade Good!)
I use it on pizzas and on pasta. It is incredible. It goes very far as I have my massive batch on a low simmer at the back of the stove 8-10 hours. It is not at all a soupy sauce. It is a thick, deeply flavourful, thank-God-in-Heaven I am alive to eat this kind of sauce. I freeze it in 1/2 cup portions, 1 cup portions and 2 cup portions.
Make this with your kids. See if I am fibbing. You will have the time of your life, and so will they!
What is your go-to tomato sauce?
Best EVER Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe
(makes 2 1/2c sauce)
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, including green tops, diced
- 2 T fresh parsley, sliced chiffonade style
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 t dried basil
- 2 t dried oregano
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including juice (DOP tomatoes make ALL the difference! OR fresh from the garden heirloom tomatoes)
- 1/2 small (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (start with a teaspoon of salt)
- Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet on medium heat
- Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and parsley (I didn’t use it this time, but added it in later: do use it this way)
- Stir to coat
- Reduce the heat to low
- Cover the skillet and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through
- Remove the cover and add the garlic, and mix in for 30 seconds
- Add the tomato paste, the basil and oregano; stir to coat (about 30 seconds to a minute)
- Add the canned tomatoes; simmer (reduce the heat to low, and cook) uncovered, until thick (about 90 minutes to 2 hours); puree in a blender, if preferred (I don’t)
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed (start with a teaspoon of salt)
- Use for whatever recipe it is intended, or cool and use a rubber spatula to scrape sauce into plastic freezer bag (label and date)
Note: This is a lovely thick condensed sauce: I only use 1/4 cup for a pizza (use sparingly, it goes a long way). I made 4 times this recipe above.