The pasta sauce section of my grocery store keeps expanding. There are tomato sauces, cream sauces, and envelope mixes. I love to cook and enjoy making my own pasta sauce, but some days I just don’t have the time. That’s when I reach for a jar on the shelf. Most jarred sauces contain 24 ounces, a handy size for my family.
To personalize the sauce I add something extra, eight ounces of cooked pork sausage, or a half box of sliced button mushrooms, or a half cup of pepperoni, cut into half-moon shapes. Fresh basil perks up a commercial sauce. If you’re having trouble getting kids to eat their veggies, add a grated carrot.
Commercial sauces may be used for pasta dishes, as a base for casseroles, and soups. For soup, I use tomato-basil or Marinara sauce. Before I put anything in my grocery cart I read the nutrition label. Some manufacturers add extra salt to compensate for inferior ingredients. Others add high fructose corn syrup, which makes the sauce too sweet.
Extra garlic can also be a problem. According to an article on the Epicurious website, “Pasta Sauce Taste Test” by Carolina Santos-Neves, authentic Italian sauce doesn’t contain any garlic.
Epicurious conducted a blind taste of 27 brands of jarred sauces. The best overall sauce was Rao’s Marinara. Lidia’s Marinara sauce was the first runner-up. The second runner-up was Monte Bene Garlic Marinara. The low rated sauces were Ragu (the tasters thought it tasted like ketchup), Gefen, a brand I’ve never heard of, and Lucini, which I don’t think is available in my area.
Consumer Reports also tested jarred sauces. Trained testers sampled 20 brands and reported the results in a website article, “Best Pasta Sauces.” They felt that Giada De Laurentis’ sauce, available only at Target, was fresh tasting, had buttery richness, and balanced flavor. “Don’t assume that all sauces by a particular manufacturer will be of similar quality.” the article warns.
After checking calories, fat content, sodium, sugars, fiber, calcium, and iron, Giada De Laurentis’ sauce, which is made with fresh tomatoes, received the highest rating.
Since I have high blood pressure and am salt sensitive, I buy the brand with the least amount of salt. Although I can’t remember the brand I used for this recipe, it was Marinara sauce. Making the soup took less than 15 minutes. We had it twice for lunch, and I ate the last of the soup for lunch again. If the members of your family like spaghetti, they will like this soup.
1 jar Marinara sauce
1 jar water
1 tablespoon reduced sodium chicken base bouillon
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup mini cheese ravioli (a dry product)
Grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best)
Pour sauce into soup pot. Swish out the jar with water and add to soup pan. Add garlic powder. Rub dried basil with your hands to bring out flavor and add to soup. Bring to a boil. Stir in cheese ravioli, reduce heat, and simmer until tender. Ladle into bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 6-8 servings.