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If using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make a small X in the bottom of each tomato and plunge into the boiling water until the skins are slightly loosened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water for 1 minute. Peel with a paring knife, starting at the X. If using frozen tomatoes, run each under warm water and peel or rub the skin off. Thaw in the refrigerator or defrost in the microwave until mostly thawed. Chop the tomatoes, reserving any juice.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (and any juice), basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar (if using). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until thickened to desired consistency, stirring occasionally, 1 to 11/2 hours. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or sugar.