Condiments | Battuto and Soffritto (herbs and vegetables in tomato-wine sauce)


When a traditional Italian recipe for pasta or rice or soup calls for a soffritto, this is an invitation to go crazy with flavours. A soffritto starts with a battuto, a mixture of minced herbs and vegetables – usually basil, carrot, celery, onion and parsley – which can also contain bacon and ham. The battuto is sautéed in olive oil, reduced to a sauce with tomatoes and wine, and, per recipe, enriched with other flavours. Recipes for pasta and beans that require a rich tomato sauce use a battuto and a soffritto. This is the quantity for a beans and pasta dish.

  • 500 g passata / tomato sauce
  • 150 g bacon / guanciale / ham, cubed (optional)
  • 150 g celery, minced
  • 150 g carrots, minced
  • 150 g onions, minced
  • 125 ml red wine
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 g pork fat (optional)
  • 3 parsley sprigs, chopped small
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Sauté half of the onions in two tablespoons of olive oil or in the pork fat until golden brown. Add the remaining onions plus the carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, salt and a tablespoons of olive oil, cook over a medium heat for five minutes. Turn heat up, pour in the wine and let it evaporate. Reduce heat to low, add the tomato sauce, seasonings and, if using, the meat. Cook for 15 minutes.

Zuppa Forte o Zuffritto Napoletana

Photo courtesy of La Gazzetta del Gusto

Known as strong soup with a soffritto, this dish of Naples and the Almalfi Coast features the coratella, the offal of the pig – heart, liver, lung, spleen and trachea.

  • 1.5 kg pork offal, cut into 4 cm pieces, soaked overnight, rinsed, dried
  • 1 litre tomato sauce flavoured with chilli powder
  • 120 ml Aglianico / red wine
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 45 g lard
  • 45 ml olive oil
  • 15 g peperonconi / whole chillies
  • 15 g salt
  • 2 bay leaves

Salt the offal. Brown the garlic, chillies and bay leaf in the oil. They can be left in or removed. Add the lard, turn heat to highest setting and begin to fry the offal until it is browned.

Add the red wine, stir, evaporate, then add the tomato sauce. Cook for an hour.

Serve with bread or pasta.

Soffritto di Maiale Catanzaro

In the province of Calabria they use leg and neck meat combined with bacon to make a rich tomato sauce with pork.

  • 1 litre passata / tomato sauce
  • 750 g pork leg, neck
  • 250 g pancetta (bacon)
  • 125 g tomato paste
  • 125 ml water
  • 5 g mixed peppercorns, ground
  • 5 g oregano
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 bay leaf

Sauté the meat with salt in a frying pan for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, oregano, peppercorns and bay leaf. Cook until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced by half.