my sunday sauce: a bolognese sauce

I used to look for recipes to make that would take just a short time, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, from start to finish. Quick preparation, quick cook time, as few pots as possible – those were my criteria. Well, that plus a glossy magazine photo of the fabulous finished dish.

Of course, those recipe selection criteria existed in the Before I Learned To Cook era. Those were the days when the George Foreman grill reigned supreme, and every meal seemed to be comprised of grilled chicken. Grilled chicken on a salad. Grilled chicken over rice. Grilled chicken over beans and rice. Grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

We don’t eat a lot of chicken now. I’m sure you understand why.

But this is a different era. My confidence in my ability to cook, though still lacking, is much better than it was. I’ve made dishes and meals that I’m proud of. Heck, I’ve put them on display here. In public! For you to judge!

And you all have been so very kind, by the way. I love you for that.

The point is, I’m no longer intimidated by a recipe that calls for more than 30 minutes, from the first chop of the knife until cooked food is on the plate. In fact, I often crave a lengthy time in the kitchen, wearing my red apron and my flip flops, moving between sink and stove and oven to prepare something amazing (hopefully) for my family to eat. And maybe it’s selfish, but a three or four hour cook time means I’m stuck at home, with nothing to do except stir a pot, flip through a magazine, read a book with Madeline, or catch up on Twitter.

I love this at-home time, with no need to go anywhere – a Stay At Home Day, as my 5 year old son calls it.

This Bolognese sauce provided me with a fantastic Stay At Home Day on Sunday. For close to four hours, I stirred this pot of deliciousness. I began sampling little spoonfuls after the first hour, and with each hour of simmering, the flavors intensified and became more rich and robust. Though not a traditional choice, I served the sauce with bucatini, mostly because I like the slipperiness and smooth roundness of the pasta. Bucatini is a pasta made for slurping. It’s fun for kids, which means that it’s also fun for me. Plus, I love saying bucatini. Boo-ka-teeeeny.

I couldn’t go anywhere on Sunday afternoon, and then I was rewarded with bucatini with Bolognese sauce for dinner. It was pretty much heaven.

bolognese sauce | the merry goumet



Bolognese Sauce

Serve this meat sauce over the pasta of your choice - the classic is tagliatelle, but truthfully, nearly any pasta will work - and with a hefty grating of fresh Parmesan cheese on top.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (26- to 28-ounces each) tomato puree
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot, and cook vegetables until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more, or until garlic is fragrant. Add beef, pork, and a big pinch of salt; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any clumps, until meat is browned and none of it is pink. Add milk and Italian seasoning, and cook, stirring often until the milk has evaporated almost completely, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add white wine; cook, stirring often, until the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree; when the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low. Simmer for at least 2 hours (and up to 4 if you have the time). Salt and pepper to taste.

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13 Responses to “roasted tomato soup and the critic”

  1. tami — September 27, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

    i made tomato soup yesterday (and today) and it has such strong memories for me. i cannot WAIT to hear about your CIA experience and trip to NYC. safe travels. xoxox

  2. Paula — September 27, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

    Your soup recipe looks wonderful (even without Oliver’s rice LOL). Great before and after photos of the tomatoes too by the way.
    Enjoy your few days at the Culinary Institute! I went and visited your new blog. I think the idea is fantastic (!!!) I know that you will reach so many people that need so very much to read what you will post. You are wonderful for having created Eating Despite Cancer.

  3. Mauna — September 27, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    My mom always put corn cornels in my tomato soup. Now it just doesn’t taste right without the corn.

  4. Liren — September 28, 2011 @ 1:43 am

    What?! Wow! I am so excited that Oliver has developed a liking for tomatoes, though the addition of rice on the bottom is a little interesting.

    I am so glad to see your new blog, MJ. I know that you will have a real impact in that space – food and cancer is another battle in and of itself. I remember too well from my parents’ fights how terrible the illness can be, especially to those who love food. Especially to those who need the nourishment. I’m looking forward to following you there as well.

    Have fun at CIA! So excited for you 🙂

  5. Gail — September 28, 2011 @ 6:21 am

    Nothing, but nothing is better than tomato soup. With or without rice.
    But always with grilled cheese!

  6. Brian @ A Thought For Food — September 28, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    There are few things more comforting than a bowl of tomato soup… and, as Gail said, grilled cheese. 🙂

  7. — September 28, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    I’m with Gail – grilled cheese and tomato soup – I could live off of that!!!
    Enjoy NYC and the CIA, I am green with envy…
    And go you with the new site. You’re an inspiration.

  8. Erin @ A Nesting Experience — September 28, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

    I love roasted tomato soup. This looks so delicious. Perfect for cool fall days!

  9. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — September 28, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    Ha, I had Campbell’s tomato soup today. I jazzed it up a bit with milk, spinach and crumbled tortilla chips, but your version looks way, way, way, WAY better 🙂

  10. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — September 29, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    This soup looks lovely! Tomato soup is one of my favorites, and roasting the flavors adds so much great flavor!

  11. Karriann Graf — September 30, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

    I love tomato soup in the winter time…..especially when we make our famous grill cheese! The grill cheese is perfect for dipping.

    “Spice it Up”

  12. Russell at Chasing Delicious — October 9, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    Yum! This recipe sounds scrumptious. I love tomato soup – the kind without rice too ; ). It takes me right back to being a kid!

  13. charlotte — October 12, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    Made it yesterday – with yellow tomatoes. Delicious and beautiful. Thanks!

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