Total time: 50 minutes
Note: Use bread slices large enough to give you 8 (2-inch) croutons.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced small
2 carrots, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
2 slices white bread
3 ounces white cheese, such as Gruyere, Cheddar, Jack or Swiss, cut in 4 slices
12 whole peppercorns, optional
1/2 cup whipping cream
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, using a cookie cutter or scissors, cut the bread slices into ghost shapes. Cut the cheese slices into the same shape. Toast the ghosts in a toaster oven. Place them on an oven-safe tray, then place the cheese on top. Use 3 peppercorns to make eyes and a mouth for each ghost. Put them back into the toaster oven and toast again to melt the cheese. (If you don't have a toaster oven, you can broil the cheese toasts about 4 inches beneath the broiler element until the cheese is bubbly, 2 minutes.)
3. Puree the soup in a blender in two batches. Return it to the pot. Add the cream and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Heat, then serve in bowls with the ghost toasts on top.
Each serving: 364 calories; 1,198 mg sodium; 44 mg cholesterol; 21 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 4.35 grams fiber.