Tomato Soup Cake

March  6, 2014
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes One 2-layer cake
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

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Linda Adams
    Linda Adams
  • ButterSugarFlowers
  • soupcon
  • Gaia Goodness Natural Foods
    Gaia Goodness Natural Foods
  • Linda Waldron
    Linda Waldron
Marian Bull

Recipe by: Marian Bull


43 Reviews

Linda C. October 8, 2017
I love making my Mum's (and Campbell's) Tomato Soup Cake). I have always avoided adding the raisins (something just seemed wrong about the raisins) - but I am a devoted date-lover (frequently making an orange and cardamom version of my Mum's Matrimonial Cake) - so a reader's comments about adding chopped dates instead of raisins is going to take my Tomato Soup Cake to a whole new level of wonderul!!
Linda C. October 8, 2017
I love making my Mum's (and Campbell's) Tomato Soup Cake). I have always avoided adding the raisins (something just seemed wrong about the raisins) - but I am a devoted date-lover (frequently making an orange and cardamom version of my Mum's Matrimonial Cake) - so a reader's comments about adding chopped dates instead of raisins is going to take my Tomato Soup Cake to a whole new level of wonderul!!
Joann February 26, 2016
When I opened your email and saw the recipe for the Tomato Soup Cake I couldn't help but smile. Use to make it all the time when my four children were growing up. Lost the recipe through the years, but will print this one out and make it. Thanks for the memories!!!
Linda A. November 22, 2015
Thank you for this. I'd lost my mother's hand written recipe card box and this was a Christmas staple in our house along with shortbread. My mother always had me cream the shortening and sugar together while she prepped the rest. I don't remember her using eggs but I've just made it and it reminds me of being ten again! Thank you all. Fingers crossed it turns out.. in loaf pans as well ????
Linda A. November 22, 2015
Not sure why my smiley face turned out as question marks lol
ButterSugarFlowers August 26, 2014
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/29297-fresh-tomato-spice-cake-a-summertime-sweet
soupcon March 30, 2014
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!
Gaia G. March 25, 2014
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!
Linda W. March 17, 2014
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......
Marian B. March 18, 2014
Perfect timing!
Tom March 17, 2014
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!
Marian B. March 18, 2014
Sorry about that! Hope you'll give it another try.
Barbara March 17, 2014
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!....
Marian B. March 18, 2014
Tomato paste pie! I'll have to do some research. So happy to hear that your friend enjoyed it.
Gretchen @. March 16, 2014
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.
Gotuj?caWmM March 16, 2014
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 ;)
Marian B. March 16, 2014
I'm honestly not sure, since the condensed soup adds salt and sweetness, too -- but let me know if you try it!
Gretchen @. March 16, 2014
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!
Marian B. March 16, 2014
Wow, interesting! Thanks for sharing.
btglenn March 16, 2014
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

belindajk March 16, 2014
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.
Marian B. March 16, 2014
Thanks for the reminder -- it does call for the condensed kind!
lydia.sugarman March 16, 2014
Can't help wondering what the tomato soup adds and how this differs from a 'traditional' spice cake?
PenCake March 16, 2014
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.
Marian B. March 16, 2014
Let me know how it turns out!
Alexandra P. March 14, 2014
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?
Marian B. March 16, 2014
Hmm, I'm not sure! Maybe start with a cup and go from there?
Daniel D. March 11, 2014
How is this with chocolate chips?
Marian B. March 16, 2014
I've never tried it, but I've also never turned down a chocolate chip.
AntoniaJames March 10, 2014
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.org/foodcakes.html#mystery (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)
SophieL May 2, 2021
This recipe is the same as on the Campbell's website (sans raisins) but as cupcakes. Bake 18-20 minutes; yields 20 cupcakes. I made 10 with golden raisins and 10 without.