Classic Soffritto with Spicy Italian Sausage in Tomato Sauce

Winter cont'd 002Winter cont'd 005Winter cont'd 004Winter cont'd 015Winter cont'd 017Soffritto is a mixture of seasonings and finely chopped vegetables, such as onions, garlic, celery and carrots that is sautéed in olive oil and used as a base for many Italian dishes. I added a little red pepper flakes and oregano. This soffritto takes an average sauce to a perfect sauce. I first learned how to use it many years ago on a trip to Italy. Plus what an awesome way to get Joel to eat some vegetables!

We came home from a beautiful ski day up on The Highlands out here in Aspen, Colorado. Very much in the mood for pasta. I had a pound of italian spicy sausage on hand and all of the other ingredients for this delicious sauce. A short tubular pasta is always best for this sauce, Rigatoni and Penne work really well. I happen to have a box of Tortiglioni noodles which work really well.



4 garlic cloves , whole

1 medium onion , cut into quarters

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 ” pieces

1 celery stalk, cut into 1 ” pieces

1 tsp. dry oregano

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes ( now you all know by now how much I love the heat, if you’re not a fan omit it)

Directions for Soffritto:

Pulse onion, carrot, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes in a food processor until finely chopped. ( see photo) Set aside.



1 28 oz. can or box of pureed tomatoes, if you don’t have pureed you can just throw whole ones into food processor along with its juice and puree it yourself.

1 lb. hot or sweet Italian Sausage, casings removed

1/4 cup olive oil

Kosher Salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste , tubes of Tomato Paste work so well in cases like this

1 lb. Pasta Noodles of your choice

Finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano for garnish


In the food processor pulse onion, carrot , celery, garlic , oregano and red pepper flakes until finely chopped; transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, add sausage and cook, breaking up sausage with the back of a wooden spoon, until browned and no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon , transfer to a plate.

Increase heat to medium-high , add reserved vegetable mixture to same pan that you cooked sausage in. Taste and season for salt, cook stirring often until vegetables are golden, about 10 minutes.

Stir tomato paste and 1 cup of water in a small bowl, I used measuring cup and small whisk, add to pot with vegetables. Cook , scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Add reserved sausage, and tomato puree and 1 more cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, you may need to add more water if sauce gets too thick. Cook on simmer for about 2 hours. Taste for salt.

* you can make sauce 3 days ahead , let cool. Cover and chill , or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat on stove top on low flame.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, follow package directions for al dente. Drain and reserve 2 cups of pasta cooking water.

I make more sauce than I need for the 2 of us, so added sauce to pasta in a separate bowl, adding pasta water as I needed it. I froze the remainder.


One response to “Classic Soffritto with Spicy Italian Sausage in Tomato Sauce

  1. Oh this must have been so tasty!

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