Hearty Tomato Sauce

This all-purpose tomato sauce is well worth the investment in time. Use fresh summer garden tomatoes if they are available. If not, go for the highest quality canned crushed tomatoes you can find.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 6 oz can tomato sauce
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and crushed
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp fennel seed, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 3/4 tsp dry)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the vegetables until tender (about 10 to 12 minutes).
2. When the vegetables are tender, push them to the edges of the pan, making a well in the center. add the tomato paste and allow it to toast for a minute or two to cook off the raw flavor, the stir it into the veggies.
3. Add the tomatoes and the dry spices, (with the exception of the fresh parsley and oregano), and let simmer about 2 hours. Add the fresh herbs towards the end of cooking time.
4. If desired, blend the sauce to a smooth consistency with an immersion blender or in batches with a standard blender.
5. Makes 12 cups.

Servings: 24
Yield: 12 cups