Though many people thinks tomato paste is tomato puree, in fact they are very different. Tomato Puree is the unseasoned beginnings of many soups and sauces, while Tomato Paste is used to thicken and enhance the color and tomato flavor in soups and sauces.
Because Tomato Paste is a reduction with almost all of the moisture removed and a ton of salt added, it is very concentrated and tart with a citric taste in its pure form. Some dishes will call for a teaspoon to be added which brings a robust tomato tone to any dish.
If a recipe calls for tomato paste, ex: pasta sauce, soup, salsa, veg sir fry, it may be omitted. Substitutes are any other form of tomato with as much of the water removed as possible. Drain canned tomatoes or seed and peel fresh ones. You can also use a thick tomato juice to add flavor and richness to a dish.
Some cooks omit the tomato paste from a recipe because as well as adding flavor and color it also adds unwanted acid. If you want to cut the acidity down for your pallet you can always add a small amount of sugar. This is my personal preference.
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