Magic tomato soup cake recipes from the 50s & 60s – and we tried it!

1950 Tomato soup cake

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What is a tomato soup cake? Find out with these vintage recipes for what was really a variation of a classic spiced cake — although with one unusual addition: a can of regular tomato soup.

We also tried making the “magic” cake ourselves — you can see how it came out, and what we thought about it, below the retro recipes on this page!

The original vintage tomato soup cake recipe

Ingredients: One tablespoonful lard, one tablespoonful butter, one teaspoonful soda, two cups flour, one teaspoon cinnamon, one cup sugar, one can Campbell’s Tomato Soup, one cup raisins, one half teaspoonful [ground] cloves.

Directions: Cream sugar and lard in bowl, add soup with soda dissolved in it; soft flour, and add spices and raisins. Mix thoroughly and bake for one hour.

Tomato soup cake recipe from Campbell's

Magic tomato soup cake retro recipe (1950)

Cake eaters’ delight! Tomato soup cake. You must taste it to believe anything could be so good!

Vintage recipe - slice of Tomato soup cake

Magic tomato soup cake

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 tbs butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cup sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can (10 oz) tomato soup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream butter & sugar well.  
  3. Sift flour; measure; resift 3 times with spices, salt.
  4. Alternately add dry ingredients with soup-soda mixture.
  5. Pour into greased loaf pan. (Size important; about 8-1/4 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2). 
  6. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until cake tester comes out clean. 
  7. If you want to frost the cake, let it cool completely first. (Frosting calories not included in calorie count below.)

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 20gProtein: 3g

Click Americana offers approximate nutrition information as a general reference only, and we make no warranties regarding its accuracy. Please make any necessary calculations based on the actual ingredients used in your recipe, and consult with a qualified healthcare professional if you have dietary concerns.

Vintage magic tomato soup cake recipes (1950)

ALSO TRY THIS ONE: Have yourself a little tomato soup fruitcake for a very retro Christmas (1960s)

Creamy chocolate frosting


1 (3 oz) pkg cream cheese
3 tbs milk
3 c sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 sq bitter chocolate, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla


Mash cheese. Add milk gradually, beating till blended.  Add sugar gradually, beating till smooth. Add melted chocolate, salt, vanilla. Beat till smooth.

Vintage magic tomato soup cake recipe

7 classic Hershey's chocolate cake recipes from the '70s

Campbell’s quick holiday spice cake: Easy vintage tomato soup cake recipe (1965)


1 package (2-layer) spice cake mix
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) Campbell’s tomato soup
1/4 cup water


Mix cake as directed on package, substituting soup and water for liquid. (Add eggs if called for.) Bake as directed on package. Frost it with your favorite icing if desired.

Vintage tomato soup cake - Quick holiday spice cake recipe - 1965

Magic tomato soup cake recipes (1950)

Retro recipe revisited: Tomato soup cake

“Soup” and “cake” aren’t two words you often use together — even moreso when the soup in question is a bright red tomato soup.

FROM THE CLICK AMERICANA EDITOR, 2018: For years, I’ve wondered about a recipe from 1950 for a “Magic tomato soup cake” (as well as a fruitcake version published in 1962), which sounded like something that would taste terrible.

How did soup at all fit as an ingredient in a cake, of all things?

We know that way back when, people loved things like jello and aspic and mayonnaise, so I wondered if people back in the fifties and sixties just had different tastes.

Or maybe the fact that this recipe existed was because so many fewer people ate out at restaurants, and craved variety in their home-cooked meals. Store-bought prepared foods and canned goods were getting more and more popular, and recipes featuring these products filled magazine and newspaper pages.

I wanted to find out whether this unusual dessert’s popularity way back when was for good reason… or if the fact that the recipe has all but vanished from modern-day cookbooks was a better indicator of its quality.

To discover that, I really had to taste-test the recipe to decide if this old-fashioned tomato soup cake still had some magic in it… or not.

ALSO SEE: 20 recipes from Campbell’s emergency dinner cookbook (1968)

Flour and spices, with the tomato soup waiting for its moment

According to the directions, the flour needed to be sifted several times, so I did so to try to help make the cake as light as possible. (Note: I didn’t have cake flour, so I instead used all-purpose unbleached flour.)

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 2

Adding the tomato soup to the sugar mixture

This was the strangest step at all — pouring in a savory, saucy tomato soup to a sweet quick bread recipe!

The recipe didn’t say when to add the sugar mixture to the flour mix, so I added the soup (and baking soda) to the creamed sugar and butter in order to be able to complete the next step: combining the wet ingredients with the dry.

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 3

Spreading the cake batter into a loaf pan

The batter came out very thick, even though I tried to be sure not to over-mix it. I had to make sure to spread it around to even it out, because I don’t think it would have found its own level before it started to really bake.

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 4

tomato soup cake baked

There are no eggs in this cake, per the recipe, but I wonder if it might have been a bit lighter with the addition of at least one egg. You can see here how heavy the batter was!

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 9

The baked loaf

For being called a cake, this recipe turned out a lot more like pumpkin bread — especially thanks to the inclusion of pumpkin-spice type spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. (It smelled pretty amazing while it cooked!)

ALSO SEE: 8 ways to make pumpkin spice mix at home

This cake was heavy and dense, and you can still see some of the swirls from how I spread the raw batter.

After it had risen, cracked and turned a beautiful golden brown, I used a fork to check to see if it was done. It peaked a little ahead of schedule, and came out clean about 40 minutes into the 50 to 60 minute cooking time.

Retro recipe revisited Tomato soup cake

Vanilla cream cheese frosting

Rather than the chocolate cream cheese frosting mentioned in the recipe, I decided to use a plain cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, a little milk).

I used a whole 8-ounce package of cream cheese… and ended up with enough frosting to cover three or four of these cakes.

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 8

This cake is not particularly sweet — probably because it relies on the frosting to balance the sweetness.

After trying a little piece from the bottom of the cake, I decided to go ahead and add the frosting in a pretty thick layer… but I still had more than half of it left over!

vintage tomato soup cake recipe classic 1

The frosted and sliced tomato soup cake

It came out pretty well — a bit more dense than I expected, but still moist and mildly flavorful. (It could have used a lot more spice, I think.)

The frosting hadn’t quite set when I cut the pieces, but that was really a factor of the icing being quite soft overall, even though it tasted great.

Vintage tomato soup cake recipe 7

And the tomato soup part? Only slightly detectable. I had three people (warily) test the cake before they knew the secret ingredient, and none of them could figure it out (after all guessing pumpkin).

My son said it tasted okay when he was eating it, but later noticed a bit of a tomato aftertaste, and the kid who eats almost everything actually turned down another slice.

Would you like a bite?

slice of Tomato soup cake

And the final judgment

Overall verdict? I wanted to be pleasantly surprised… but I’m glad I kept my expectations low, because even then, they were only barely met.

The cake wasn’t bad (in fact, one family member really likes it), but it isn’t something I can’t see myself making again. The texture was fine, but the taste was just a little bit… off.

Bite of cake with frosting

For something with this general kind of flavor and texture, I’d rather go with a pumpkin loaf, carrot cake or even zucchini bread.

In other words, I’ll trade the bizarro factor for something tried-and-true. (When it comes to desserts, I want to make sure every bite is really worth the calories.)

While I have no doubt that this bread would delight some of you out there, for 4 of the 5 people who tested this recipe in my house — including myself — the only good part was the cream cheese frosting.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is easy enough to spread on to cakes that don’t include soup.

NOW SEE THIS: 100+ classic cake recipes: The ultimate vintage collection

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Comments on this story

6 Responses

    1. DELICIOUS!! I remember my mom making it when I was a little kid and I used to get such a kick out of the baking soda fizzing up in the tomato soup! LOL. It’s like a spice cake…you’d never know there was tomato soup in there! 🥰

  1. We use chopped walnuts or pecans. We color the frosting Green–it is a regular Christmas offering at our gatherings. We let newcomers try it before we tell them what it is. We bake it in an Angelfood cake pan. I have even used a darker green icing to decorate with holly leaves and cinnamon candies for the berries.

  2. My Mom’s recipe has flour, shortening, egg, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg as well as the can of soup. She also added blanched raisins. We seldom added frosting. It was my favorite cake back in the 50’s and I still make it today.

    1. Hi Bill Butler, I’m sure my mother used shortening in her tomato soup too! Would you mind sharing your mother’s recipe. My parents have both passed away and I want to make it at an upcoming family get together.

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