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SR The Country Club 1

Classic Italian flavors of basil, garlic, and tomatoes shine in this easy to cook soup. It works equally well for a fancy dinner party as it does for a Saturday family lunch, served with grilled cheese of course.

Yield: 6 servings

2 to 3 cups water

6 cups premium marinara sauce

2 cups half-and-half

3 tablespoons chopped fresh purple basil (leaves only, stripped from stems)

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons granulated garlic

Kosher salt to taste

6 tablespoons finely chopped leaves of flat-leaf Italian parsley

6 tablespoons shredded pecorino

Notes: The Country Club imports its premium marinara sauce from Italy. The sauce should not be thin and smooth, but should have a texture and a little chunkiness to it. We found several good sauces at DiGregorio’s Market on the Hill and chose Mama Sugo marinara for the test.

• If purple basil is not available, substitute fresh green basil.

• Use granulated garlic, not garlic salt or powder, in this recipe. It adds to the texture.

• When you add the Parmesan, it thickens up a little more, which is why you want to the hot water handy, but we didn’t need it.

• Taste before adding kosher salt. You may not need any.

1. Place the water in an instant kettle or in a small pot on the stove and heat to a boil. Maintain it at a low simmer.

2. While the water heats, pour the marinara sauce into a 4- or 5-quart saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium low.

3. Place the half-and-half in a small mixing bowl. Temper the half-and-half by adding ¾- to 1-cup of hot sauce, stirring slowly until it incorporates. This step prevents the soup from curdling.

4. Slowly pour the tempered half-and-half into the hot sauce, stirring as you pour.

5. Add the chopped basil and granulated garlic into the soup. Stir in thoroughly, down to the bottom of the pot. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

6. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir well, scraping the bottom and the sides of the pan.

7. Add hot water gradually to the hot soup, ½ cup at a time, stirring down to the bottom, until the desired consistency is reached. You will probably not use all of the water but keep it at the ready to add if needed. For the test, we added 2 cups total.

8. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often, down to the bottom and around the edges.

9. Taste. Add salt if needed.

10. Remove from the burner to a warm place, cover and let rest 5 to 10 minutes.

11. Top with chopped parsley and grated pecorino.

Per serving: 195 calories; 6g fat; 2g saturated fat; 11mg cholesterol; 7g protein; 29g carbohydrate; 17g sugar; 5g fiber; 1,656mg sodium; 183mg calcium