Mom’s Tomato Sauce

Sugo di pomodoro

My mom’s tomato sauce tastes like comfort and love. Each time I visit, she’s quick to start the sauce simmering. Soon the air is heavy with the sweet smell of garlic, basil, and tomatoes and I can finally relax. It’s the scent of my childhood, an escape from my everyday worries.


She’s been refining and improving her sauce for longer than I’ve been alive. In all that time she hasn’t forgotten what’s most important: quality ingredients. Tomatoes are key and she cans her own each Fall. That’s a story for another blog post, but thankfully there are good quality canned tomatoes available in grocery stores. And don’t skimp on olive oil while you’re there!

This recipe is for her everyday tomato sauce (delicious in its own right), but on Sundays she makes a special sauce. Soffritto, a mix of diced celery, carrot, and onion, is added to saute with the garlic for more flavour. She’ll also add meat and her Braciole di vitello al sugo for a real treat.

The dash of baking soda is added at the end to correct for acidity. Mom insists that even the sweetest tomatoes have some acidity.


Mom's Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


  • 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 to 5 sprigs of fresh basil or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil or oregano
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) baking soda (optional)


  1. Puree whole tomatoes in a blender or food mill.
  2. In a 2 or 3 quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic for 3-5 minutes, until golden all over. Add the pureed tomatoes and basil, cook partially covered, for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and adjust heat to prevent burning. Sauce will be reduced and thickened.
  3. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, stirring after each addition. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, when the sauce begins to splatter add about 1 cup (250 mL) water. Return to a boil and reduce heat to maintain sauce at a low boil, cook for about 15  to 20 minutes further. Stir every few minutes or as needed.
  4. Add up to 1 cup (250 mL), additional water, to sauce. During cooking, water will evaporate and sauce will thicken. Simmer to desired consistency. If using, add baking soda to sauce and mix well, cook for 3 to 5 minutes further. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside for 30 minutes before serving over pasta noodles, if desired. Can be used immediately. Refrigerate for about 3 to 4 days or freeze for future use.



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