Fresh Tomato Sauce

Best made at the end of the summer, when tomatoes are full of flavour, this is a very versatile sauce. Keep it thin for coating pasta, or reduce it for enriching soups and stews.

Makes 750ml–1.5 litres (3–6 cups), depending on thickness required


  • 3kg (7lb) very ripe plump tomatoes, cored and a cross scored on the bottom
  • 65ml (4 tbsp plus 1 tsp) red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tsp salt
    2 tsp brown sugar (optional)


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and ice and place it beside the hob or stove.
  2. Drop several tomatoes at a time into the boiling water and leave them until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, about 45–60 seconds. Lift out with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the iced water. When cool, transfer them to another bowl. Repeat this step with the remaining tomatoes.
  3. Peel the tomatoes, then roughly chop the flesh. Working in batches, pulse them in a blender or food processor to the consistency you prefer – either chunky or smooth.
  4. Transfer the tomatoes to a large saucepan and bring
    to a simmer over a medium-low heat. Cook, uncovered, for 30–40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency that you like. Stir in the vinegar and salt. Taste and add some brown sugar if the sauce is a little sharp.
  5. Store for up to a week in the refrigerator, or pot up in sterilized screw top jars. 

Tomato Sauce Variation

  • Flavoured Tomato Sauce – blanch, peel and chop 1kg (21⁄4lb) tomatoes as above. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add 1 finely chopped onion, carrot and celery stick plus 2 tbsp chopped parsley, then cover and cook over a low heat for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Add 3 chopped garlic cloves and cook for 30 seconds over a medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and their juice, 1 tsp tomato purée (paste) and 2 tbsp chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a pinch of chilli
  • if you like, then simmer, uncovered, until thickened – about 15 minutes. If you want a smooth sauce, blend it with a hand blender. Store in the same way as Tomato Sauce (see above)