Scale this recipe up or down as needed. Depending on variety and ripeness, tomatoes will give off different amounts of liquid, so your cooking times might vary. Use your eyes and taste buds to judge when the sauce is done, usually between one and a half to two hours (more if scaled up). It should be quite thick. I like to freeze the sauce, but you may also can it. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions and add a bit of lemon juice or citric acid to the finished sauce.) Get creative when cooking with it. Swirl it into a broth for fish soup; toss it with roasted vegetables, penne, and mozzarella for a baked pasta; spoon it on crusty ciabatta. Or, of course, serve it on pasta — with or without these tasty Simple Parmigiano Meatballs.

Yields 5 to 6 cups

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6 to 8 sprigs of thyme, tied in a bundle with string
  • 4 pounds ripe plum or other meaty tomatoes (cored and coarsely chopped, but not skinned; include juices), about 10 to 11 cups

1. In a large, wide pot (a 6-quart Dutch oven is great), melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions, carrots, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover loosely and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the carrots are somewhat softened, about 15 minutes.

2. Uncover, add the garlic (as much as you like), and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes (if using), the balsamic vinegar, and the thyme. Stir.

3. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, all of the chopped tomatoes and their juices, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir well. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered, stirring (and scraping the sides) frequently at first and then occasionally, until the tomatoes have reduced in volume by about half, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. The sauce will be quite thick and should taste rich.

4. Take the pot off of the stove and let the sauce sit for 10 to 15 minutes to cool slightly. Use an immersion blender to purée the sauce right in the pot until it is smooth. (It will still have a slightly rough texture.  Alternatively, purée in batches in a stand-up blender.) 
Let cool completely.

This recipe was originally published with the article, You Say Tomato, I Save Tomato.