Different areas of Italy include different ingredients to the tomato sauce they make. In northern Italy, where the area of Tuscany is located, they include a mixture of vegetables to add extra flavour to their tomato sauce. This mixture is called a soffritto.

Yield: 4-6 servings
Preparation Time: 1 hour

This veggie-packed versatile sauce can be used for pasta, pizza, gnocchi and much more! Make a big batch and freeze in portions for healthy meals in a hurry. Some like it smooth, some like it chunky. If you prefer, this sauce can also be pureed using a hand-held blender, blender or a food processor. Wait until cool before processing.




  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • ½ stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, rasped or pressed through a garlic press
  • 2 Tbsp (30mL) olive oil
  • 1x 794g (28oz) can tomatoes
  • 125mL (1/2 cup) water, vegetable or chicken stock
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp (15mL) ripped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish


  • Medium-sized pot or Dutch oven
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Microplane or garlic press
  • Can opener
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon


1. Cut the onion in half and peel off the papery skin. Holding on to the root end, slice into thin strips. Slice each strip into thin strips, giving you small cubes of onion. Place in a medium-sized bowl.

2. Peel the carrot then cut in half lengthwise. With the flat side of the carrot on the cutting board, cut the carrot into half lengthwise. Cut the strips into small cubes of carrot. Add to the bowl.

3. Cut the celery lengthwise into 2 long thin strips then cut into small cubes. Add to the bowl.

4. Peel the garlic then rasp with a microplane or press through a garlic press. Add to the bowl.

5. Place the pot on the stovetop and turn on to a medium heat. Add the olive oil and let heat up for a minute.

6. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

7. Add the can of tomatoes, water or stock, pinch of pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Stir, breaking up the tomatoes with the wooden spoon. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

8. Once at a simmer, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Remove the lid after about 15 minutes.

9. Tear the herbs into the pot and stir.


  • Can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • The sauce freezes well to have on hand for a quick meal.
  • If you prefer, this sauce can also be pureed using a hand-held blender, blender or a food processor. Wait until cool before processing.
  • This can be used on pasta, baked potatoes or as a pizza sauce.
  • To cook whole grain pasta fill a large pot ¾ of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add a big pinch of salt. Add whole grain pasta and give it a swish with a wooden spoon. Cook until “al dente”, or “to the tooth”. It should be soft but not mushy. Drain in a strainer in the sink.







Gather the ingredients.

Dice onions, carrots and celery. Grate garlic.

Heat oil in a pot on medium-low heat.

Add vegetables.

Stir occasionally until vegetables are tender and onions are cooked, about 10 – 12 minutes.

Onions will change colour from white to a little bit clear and yellow.

Add can of tomatoes, half a can of water (or stock) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Put lid on and bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened. Remove lid after about 15 mins.

Tear the basil into the sauce. Serve with wholegrain pasta.

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