Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. If using the jalapeno, tilt the pan to collect the oil in a little pool against the side and drop the jalapeno into the oil. Cook until light brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the jalapeno and reserve.
Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly until light gold, and then pour in the tomato juice and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer rapidly for several minutes, and then add the crushed tomato pulp. Rinse the remaining pulp out of the can by filling it halfway with water, and then pour that into the pan. Add the bay leaf, jalapeno, if using, and salt and pepper to taste and return to a boil. Add the dried tomatoes and stir.
Lower the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens and the tomatoes have turned an orange-red verses the pale blue-red they were straight from the can, about 30 minutes. Add the oregano halfway through the cooking.