How Do I Love Thee … Tomato (Sauce)?

With sincere apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806 – 1861 …

Tomatoes just picked from the garden.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when dappled in light,
Painted, soft, and ripe to taste.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, juicy bite by juicy bite.
I love thee freely, as chefs about you fight.
I love thee purely, as they beg for praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
With sharpened knife, I liberate your juice.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With green peppers. I love thee lightly tossed
In salads, soups, in many things; but, if I choose,
I shall but love thee better in a sauce.

Tomato sauce made from ripened Romas.
Tomato sauce made from ripened Romas.

The heat is upon us now, and with it comes the sudden ripening of dozens of tomatoes. Roma, Indigo Rose, Black Sea Man, Yellow Cherries, the list goes on. I cannot bear wasting even a single ripe tomato, so it’s into the pot they go. Yesterday we made just over three liters of tomato sauce, all of which is in the freezer now, and we still have another basket of Roma tomatoes to use. I’m delighted. Growing tomatoes during the heavy rains that arrive with a vengeance later in the year is a challenge, so it’s best to make the most of them now.

I’ve been making tomato sauce for as long as I remember. It’s been a staple in my house, fresh or frozen, and used as a base for soup, in a pasta, or to add to stews. In my opinion, no sauce is better than that made from your own homegrown tomatoes. I don’t skin mine before cooking, and I don’t remove the seeds either. Rather, I cook the sauce and then reduce it to a consistency I like. After letting it cool slightly I run the whizzer stick through the pot, making sure I rid the sauce of any bits and pieces.

The recipe below is for a large quantity of tomatoes. Feel free to reduce it by a half or a third.

The essential fresh ingredients for a tasty tomato sauce.
The essential fresh ingredients for a tasty tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce – with a nod to Sarah Raven’s Really Rich Tomato Sauce recipe in the Garden Cookbook

Yield: Just over 3 liters/3 quarts of tomato sauce


  • 3 kgs/6.5 pounds of ripe tomatoes (Roma make the best sauce)
  • 3 large red onions, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 large fresh garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme and fresh oregano, mixed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 bottles passata (720ml), or 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 600ml red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Wash and roughly chop the tomatoes.

2. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and then add the onions. Soften until translucent, being careful not to let them brown, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, sugar, passata/tomato paste, and wine to the pot and bring to the boil, stirring regularly.

4. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a consistency you like, about 45 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Run the whizzer stick through the pot of sauce, ensuring the consistency is smooth. (You can also use a blender or food processor.)

6. When completely cool, transfer sauce into containers suitable for freezing.

Tomato sauce prepared for the freezer.
Tomato sauce prepared for the freezer.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.


  • My absolute favourite too Annabel! Breakfast isn’t breakfast without homemade tomato sauce . Just one thing I have learnt – if you don’t have the time to cook ripe tomatoes (I also HATE wasting even one) just chuck them as they are in the deepfreeze, they are SO easy to chop when frozen and easy to peel to if you just run them under the tap. Just saying. Thank you for your LOVELY posts and the poem is a gem!

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post. (I hope Elizabeth isn’t turning in her grave!) I have never tried your method of freezing tomatoes. What a great idea! So quick and easy. I also love the thought of having tomato sauce for brekky. Yum! I will definitely give both a go. Thanks, again. All the best, Annabel

  • Now this is definitely going to be the base for our pasta dishes which are fast becoming popular in the Birdwoods Kitchen…. I think it must be the red wine that makes the difference…… watch this space as I forward it to our girls. Life on a desert island would have to have tomatoes!

    • Wonderful, Louise! I love the idea of my recipes being used in your beautiful Birdwoods Gallery, thousands and thousands of miles away in New Zealand. What an accolade! And yes, what would life be without the tomato? xo

  • Am sitting in Gatwick Airport, house all packed (sort of), en route to Rome and sipping a tomato juice. A pause … while Scotland makes it’s mind up. Cheers!

    • Well done, Georgie … a completed task not for the faint of heart, rewarded by a healthy tomato juice! … Ah, Scotland. To be or not to be, we shall see. Safe travels!

  • […] ours normal-thin. I then used the tomato sauce recipe about which I blogged last year (click here for the post) to put on top of the […]

  • […] 15 minutes, adding water if needed to keep it the consistency of a pasta sauce. (If using readymade tomato sauce, add to the pepper mix, bring up to a simmer, and cook for about 5 […]


Write a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.