Julia Child’s Provençale Tomato Sauce with onions, garlic, and basil, raised high with a perfumed whiff of orange peel and coriander seed.
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- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅔ cup finely minced yellow onions
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 5 to 6 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered
- ⅛ teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
- A large herb bouquet: 8 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf and 4 sprigs thyme, all tied in cheesecloth
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon dried basil, oregano, marjoram or savory
- Large pinch saffron threads
- 1 dozen coriander seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 2-inch piece dried orange peel (or 1/2 teaspoon granules)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
- In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Sprinkle on the flour and cook slowly for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not brown.
- Meanwhile, fit a food processor with the coarse grating blade. Working in batches to avoid overfilling the machine, push the tomatoes through the feed tube to make a coarse purée.
- Stir the tomatoes, sugar, garlic, herb bouquet, fennel, basil, saffron, coriander, orange peel and 1 teaspoon salt into the pot. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, so the tomatoes will render more of their juice. Then uncover and simmer for about an hour, until thick. The sauce is done when it tastes thoroughly cooked and is thick enough to form a mass in the spoon. Remove herb bouquet and taste. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and tomato paste, and simmer two minutes more. The sauce may be used immediately, refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.