Tomato Soup Cake

By • March 6, 2014 • 36 Comments



Author Notes: This was my grandmother Ruthie's recipe, a technique that Irish immigrants apparently relied on when short on money and fresh ingredients. It tastes nothing like tomato soup, I assure you; but rather like a nice spice cake, spotted with raisins, best with a cream cheese frosting.

This recipe was originally printed, sans raisins, in Linda Bassett's From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston (Commonwealth Editions, 2002).
Marian Bull

Makes one 2-layer cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • One 10 3/4-ounce can condensed tomato soup (Campbell's is most traditional)
  • 1/2 cup shortening (or butter)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Cream cheese frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, shaking out any excess flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the soup, shortening, eggs, and water. Beat together until everything forms a smooth (pink!) batter. Fold in raisins. Pour the batter into the cake pans, doing your best to get the same amount in each.
  3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; when the cake is done, the tines of a fork should come out clean.
  4. Let cake cool completely before frosting; my mother says that Ruthie would likely frost each layer, and leave the sides bare, which I've done here.
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Green_cupcake

4 days ago butter, sugar, flowers

Now that it's the time of year that fresh tomatoes are overflowing in gardens, I prefer to make fresh tomato spice cake instead of using canned tomato soup: http://food52.com/recipes...

Pinch_dash_smidgon

5 months ago soupcon

I made this cake for years until I lost the recipe. Instead of raisons I use pitted dates cut in pieces. I found it in my very first edition of " The Joy of Cooking". Yummmmmm!

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5 months ago Gaia Goodness Natural Foods

I knew I wasn't losing my mind when I told a friend I was considering using my Banana Mango Ketchup in baked sweets like cookies, cake or bread. I think I'll use this Tomato Soup Cake recipe as a guide for when i try it out with the ketchup. This recipe has come into my life at the perfect time. Thank you for posting it!

Stringio

6 months ago Linda Waldron

This is so funny, I was just talking about looking for a recipe for Tomato soup cake with a friend of mine just a little while ago, when she was talking about making a 7-up cake. This is great. I will make this and surprise her with it! Thanks for reading my mind......

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5 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Perfect timing!

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6 months ago Tom

Just made this, and didn't realise it was meant to be condensed soup! I also used mixed spice instead of the spices given here as I didn't have all spice in. All in all nice recipe - probably would have come out better if I'd have used the right soup!

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5 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Sorry about that! Hope you'll give it another try.

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6 months ago Barbara

I love this! I made it for a 94 year old woman I take care of and she loved it too! I once made a pie using tomato paste that was really great but I can't find the recipe so if you find one I sure would love to see it. Thank you for the cake recipe!....

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5 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Tomato paste pie! I'll have to do some research. So happy to hear that your friend enjoyed it.

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6 months ago Gretchen @ Backyardnotes

One more note about this cake for anyone who thinks it odd that tomatoes are in a cake; there is not the slightest taste of tomato or vegetable note, just a slight sweetness. The tomatoes/soup add moistness instead of using oil like a lot similar 'vegetable' cakes, i.e carrot cake.

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6 months ago Gotuj?caWmM

Can I add just tomato passata? Because I don't have this kind of soup in my shop. Only with garlic or with herbs but I think that it won't work ;)

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

I'm honestly not sure, since the condensed soup adds salt and sweetness, too -- but let me know if you try it!

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6 months ago Gretchen @ Backyardnotes

Thanks, Marian for writing about this great cake. My grandmother made this in the late 50's-60's and it was always one of my favorites as it was not too sweet. I still have her recipe card and she called it Aggie's Tomato Cake (her name). She used 2 1/2 cups of canned tomatoes, chopped, instead of tomato soup, 2 cups raisins, and added chopped walnuts as well. I remember her cake always in a 9 x 13 pan with thick cream cheese frosting. Although I have not made this in quite some time, I think I will, thanks to you!

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Wow, interesting! Thanks for sharing.

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6 months ago btglenn

This recipe was also in an older edition of "The Joy of Cooking." It was called "The Mystery Cake." The ingredients are the same as those used by grandma Ruthie. This site also published their own version with contemporary updates: 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
2/3 cups muscovado sugar, packed (or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground sumac (Rhus coriaria) or lemon zest
1-2 tablespoon instant espresso powder, your choice of strength, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla (Tahitian preferred)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or canola oil)
1 cup low sodium V8 juice
1/4 cup yellow raisins, plumped up in 1 tbl. of V8 juice, optional
1 teaspoon lemon (or orange) zest, optional
powdered sugar for dusting


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6 months ago belindajk

Though this cake was not part of my childhood, it looks yummy and easy enough to make me want to give it a try. I assume the canned soup is condensed soup; it might help those unfamiliar with the recipe to clarify that.

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Thanks for the reminder -- it does call for the condensed kind!

Stringio

6 months ago lydia.sugarman

Can't help wondering what the tomato soup adds and how this differs from a 'traditional' spice cake?

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6 months ago PenCake

I remember this cake. A woman who babysat for us while my mom worked baked it. Sounds weird but tasted great, as I recall. Will try this recipe.

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Let me know how it turns out!

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6 months ago Alexandra Parsons

OOOooooo - This sounds great. Not one for tinned soups, but will enjoy giving it a try as an alternative. I wonder what it would be like with some grated carrot as the recipe posted by manykittiesmama sounds like a carrot cake, with raisins and walnuts? What do you think, how much should I add? 1 ½ cups of grated maybe?

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Hmm, I'm not sure! Maybe start with a cup and go from there?

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6 months ago Daniel Decline

How is this with chocolate chips?

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

I've never tried it, but I've also never turned down a chocolate chip.

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This recipe appears, almost exactly -- the only difference being the addition of raisins -- on the cooking site of the company that produces Campbell's soup. The original version they published differs somewhat, as manykittiesmama has noted. I suspect that the one that your grandmother made was more like one of the much older versions, which can be found here: http://www.foodtimeline... (Do a text search on that page for "Marian Manners," who is believed first to have published it. You'll see a number of other recipes, over the years.)
King Arthur Flour posts on their site the same recipe as yours, with 1/2 cup of raisins, describing it in their head note as a "Depression Era" cake. As I'm sure many readers here know, M.F.K. commented on this very recipe (well, the one that was current at the time) in "How to Cook a Wolf." ;o)

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6 months ago manykittiesmama

This should actually be called 'Mildred's Tomato Soup Cake'. My grandmother won a Campbell's Soup recipe contest back in the 1940's war years with this recipe. I still have the paperwork for it. This also isn't the original recipe. The original calls for 1cp sugar, 1TB butter, a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup, & 1/4 cp water. 1tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp each baking powder & baking soda, 1 cp raisins & 1 1/2 cp chopped walnuts. Cream the sugar & butter together, then add the tomato soup & water. Stir the spices, baking powder & baking soda into the flour then fold into the wet mixture. Last, stir in the nuts & the raisins. Bake 350 for 40 minutes in a greased & floured pan. Definitely cream cheese frosting on top! Remember during the war years things were rationed

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6 months ago Calchick

wow that cuts the butter/shortening WAY down! only 1 TABLESPOON?

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6 months ago Calchick

Oh and no eggs either? need to try your recipe!

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6 months ago Susan T. Wakefield

I have a very similar recipe from my mother's mother, which would date it from the 1930's/40's. It calls for 1/2 c. butter and 1 egg, with no cloves, and instructs that you dissolve the baking soda in 3 TB hot water. It's baked in a loaf pan for "close to an hour". She served it more as a nut bread, without frosting (surely it doesn't need it with that much butter!). Delicious. Aren't inherited recipes fun?

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6 months ago jmmg

I had the Campbell's Cook Book years ago, a gift from an old boyfriend's mother. This recipe was in it, I believe. I wish I still had it, it probably had some gems in it.

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Oh wow, I'd love to read that!

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6 months ago Kira B

Is there a certain brand or kind of tomato soup you recommend using?

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is Food52's Associate Editor.

Plain old Campbell's condensed! Not the most virtuous ingredient, but hey, it's retro.

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6 months ago Nancy

I remember my mother baking this cake and it is delicious!