Browsing Tag


Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Soup vegetarian

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

Can you believe I never liked tomato soup when I was a kid? I mean, really, who doesn’t love tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches? Well, I didn’t.

I’m not sure why I didn’t like tomato soup; honestly I didn’t like any kind of soup.  My mom prepared all sorts of crazy grilled cheese sandwiches just to get me to eat soup. Which I ate. That is, I ate the grilled cheese sandwiches and usually left a nearly full bowl of soup at the table.

However, somewhere along the years and with a more developed palate, I became obsessed with tomato soup.  So much that I serve tomato soup often in my kitchen and today, both my daughters love a bowl of tomato soup, tomato bisque, or just a chunky tomato stew.

For me, it was the creamy texture of tomato bisque that first caught my attention.  I was working in Boston and there was a little Italian deli down the street from where I worked that served the most lush, creamy and cheesy soup.  In a word, it was divine.  The highly entertaining and charismatic deli owner, Giovanni, served it with crusty Italian bread and butter which paired perfectly with the creamy tomato concoction.

I walked to that deli every day for my beloved tomato bisque, when finally, I realized I was developing a bit of an allergy to tomatoes.  I seriously had to back off the soup for a while. Thankfully at that time, spring was making an appearance and my soup days would hopefully be limited with the warmer weather.

Of course, I continue to eat tomato soup – just not every day. I enjoy it the most when the weather is cool and rainy outdoors and when the soup is paired with my friend, Sheri’s, version of grilled cheese with apple butter.  For me, its food heaven.

Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons // Karista's Kitchen

When my client asked for a classic tomato soup recipe for a retro food article, I was thrilled.  I knew I wanted to include grilled cheese somehow, so I made little mini’s and called them grilled cheese croutons.  However, there are times when I really want a hearty grilled cheese and apple butter sandwich with my tomato soup, so feel free to indulge.

This is totally off topic but notice the sweet table-cloth printed with apricots? Yep, it’s my mom’s tablecloth from the 1950’s and it was so perfect for this shoot.  😉

Wishing you warm and cozy days all curled up with this Classic Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons!

Loads of Love,


Classic Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Serving Size: 4


  • 2 tablespoons ghee or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28-32 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 8 slices good quality white bread
  • 1-2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese


  • In a large pot over medium heat, add the ghee or olive oil and onions. Sauté the onions until wilted and then add the garlic and cook one minute longer.
  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, pinch of crushed red pepper, vegetable broth and sugar. Bring to a slow boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to broil. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place them buttered side down on a baking sheet. Add the cheese slices to the bread and then top with the remaining bread buttered side up. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and toast. Flip the sandwiches and toast the other side.
  • Remove them from the oven and let them cool. Slice them into small square croutons.
  • When the soup is done either transfer to a blender and blend until smooth or using an emersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then stir in the heavy cream.
  • Serve the warm soup in bowls topped with the grilled cheese croutons.
  • Notes

    This recipe first appeared in Home By Design Magazine Fall 2016

    Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin



    Karista's Kitchen Salad Sassy Side dishes vegetarian

    Cucumber Greek Salad

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I can’t eat enough salad these days.  Maybe it’s the weather or maybe it’s all the beautiful produce at the Farmer’s Market and my Co-op – quietly taunting me with brilliant shades of summer color and fresh earthy scents as I slowly meander by.

    Salad is a lovely way to enjoy the warmer months.  No need to turn on a stove top or oven, fresh ingredients that are easily prepped and assembled and can be as fun and festive or as traditional as you desire.

    Cucumber Greek Salad with Herbed Feta, Olives, Red Onion and Fresh Mint

    I keep an assortment of vinegar and olive oil in my pantry for a quick dressing.  Don’t worry about getting to fancy or spending a lot of time making the dressing.  Just a dash of your best olive oil and favorite vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper will do.  Get a little wild and purchase a champagne, pinot noir or sherry vinegar or high quality flavored vinegar to keep on hand for all your summer salad creations.

    This enticing Cucumber Greek Salad was inspired by the traditional Greek salad that we all know and love.  I makes a lovely light lunch or paired with grilled salmon for the loveliest of summer al fresco dining.  Divine.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cucumber Greek Salad

    All the ingredients are approximate.  Feel free to adjust to your taste preference.  Sometimes I load the salad with olives and sometimes I keep it simple with just a few.  Let your taste buds be your guide.

    Serves 4


    2 large cucumbers, peeled or partially peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch slices.

    1/2 cup pitted assorted olives (I like using stuffed green and pitted kalamata olives)

    1/2 cup small diced or crumbled herbed or marinated feta cheese

    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

    1/4 cup coarsely chopped or torn fresh mint leaves

    Optional: Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

    Salt and pepper

    Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

    Drizzle of sherry, champagne, red wine, pinot noir or balsamic vinegar


    Layer the cucumber on a platter or in a large serving bowl.  Next layer the olives, then the feta cheese, next the red onion and then last, top with the fresh mint.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinegar and olive oil.

    I love this served on a large platter but if you prefer, put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and vinegar.  Garnish with extra chopped mint.






    Karista's Kitchen Salad vegetarian

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

    Do you remember this blast from the past?  Green Goddess Dressing.  My Mom used to serve this dressing with our dinner salad at least once a week.  As a kid I thought it was such a peculiar name for a salad dressing and I remember I liked to say “Green Goddess” as if it were some magical word that might turn me into a super hero.  Yes, those were the days I was watching Electra Woman and Dyna Girl on Saturday mornings.  Ah… the mind of a child.

    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing / Karista's Kitchen

    Today, the dressing doesn’t quite hold the same meaning for me – but it’s still magical to my taste buds.  Although this dressing is prepared with a mayonnaise and sour cream base, it’s rather light with fresh lemon and assorted fresh herbs, garlic, intensely flavored anchovies and of course the crowning glory of my version of this lovely dressing, avocado.  Whipped up into a lovely pastel colored dressing for greens, vegetables, salads, shrimp and fish.

    I adore Oregon pink shrimp, the small bay size shrimp, and if I have them stocked in my frig, I’ll toss those over the top as well.   And on occasion, I’ll slather it on toast and then proceed to make myself a summer tomato and avocado sandwich.

    Wishing you all Loads of Love and Delicious Wishes!


    Butter Lettuce Wedges with Green Goddess Dressing


    1 ripe medium avocado

    1/4 cup mayonnaise

    1/4 cup sour cream

    2 anchovies

    2 tablespoons lemon juice

    1 clove garlic

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I like Italian parsley, basil, oregano and chive)

    1/4 cup fresh chopped chive for garnish

    Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Sprinkling of diced cooked bacon (optional)

    Bay Shrimp (optional)

    Avocado slices

    lemon wedges


    Place in a blender or food processor the avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, lemon juice, fresh herbs and garlic clove. Puree until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

    Serve over fresh butter lettuce wedges and garnish with chopped fresh chive, avocado slices and lemon wedges.  For a heartier meal I love sweet bay shrimp tossed onto the butter lettuce wedges or diced cooked bacon.

    This dressing is also lovely over mixed greens, grilled romaine or romaine wedges.

    Appetizers Beef Chicken Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Seafood

    Tacos, Ceviche and a Dessert

    Cinco de Mayo recipes

    Ceviche, Chocoflan and Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Over the years, I’ve had a long love affair with Mexican food.  I must have 50 different taco recipes floating around my kitchen.  All with an abundance of fresh ingredients, fragrant aromas that fill my house and robust and spicy flavored dishes that make my family smile big toothy smiles.

    The Bennett Crew and I have spent countless summer evenings sitting out on the deck, dining on ceviche, salsa, tacos, grilled meats and fish, all with the flavors of Mexico.  Sipping on sangria, cerveza or bright pink virgin margarita’s while watching the sun set in the distance.  Ahhh… makes me think of vacation.

    In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d round-up some of my favorite Mexican and South American recipes.  Some of the recipes are easily prepared and some take a little extra time, but so worth the effort.

    Wishing you all a fun, festive, and of course, completely delicious Cinco de Mayo celebration!

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema.

    chicken tacos

    Roasted Chicken Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

    Simple Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Halibut Tacos with spicy slaw

    Simple Roasted Halibut Tacos with Spicy Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Chipotle Lime Crema.

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw

    Grilled Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Crema

    Slow Braised Barbacoa with Cucumber Avocado Salsa.

    slow braised barbacoa with cucumber avocado salsa

    Slow Braised Barbacoa

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche.

    ceviche with halibut, bay shrimp, cilantro, white onion, sriracha, and avocado

    Mixed Seafood and Avocado Ceviche

    The Dreamiest Chocoflan


    Nelly Rodriguez de Galofre’s Chocoflan