A crouton is a small piece of bread that has been seasoned and toasted or fried until it becomes crisp. They are commonly made from stale bread as a way to use it up, rather than throwing it away. Croutons are often cubed and then either baked or sautéed with butter, olive oil, and various seasonings like garlic, herbs, and salt.

Croutons are most famously used as a topping for salads, especially Caesar salad, to add a crunchy texture contrast to the greens. They can also be used in soups, such as tomato soup or French onion soup, serving as a flavorful, textural complement. Additionally, croutons can be a component in recipes for stuffing or used as a crunchy garnish for various dishes.

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