It’s no secret how obsessed I am with everything related to fall. I love the leaves changing colors, putting on my favorite scarf, participating in all the special events (festivals, Halloween, Thanksgiving…) and anything pumpkin-related. Before I even knew about pumpkin-spice, pumpkins were already my favorite way to mark the start of my favorite season. Decorate them, cook with them, or even use them as a learning tool in the classroom!
While it was very hard to find a retro recipe that would satisfy my pumpkin needs, I did find two recipes that mostly fit the bill in their own way. I found both recipes in a 1974 edition of the Campbell Cookbook: Cooking with Soup.
The first recipe I chose was titled Casper’s Tureen. I was immediately intrigued. It is described as a perfect dish for a pumpkin-carving party. While I couldn’t find any relation between the ingredients and the friendly ghost (or even pumpkins for that matter), it seemed like an interesting connection to my pumpkin obsession. The recipe is very simple and, might I admit, not very appetizing. The only obstacle I came across was not finding one of the canned soups listed in the ingredients: condensed beef noodle. I replaced it with the closest thing I found: vegetable beef soup. Despite my original aversion to mixing three types of canned soup, I turned out pleasantly surprised with the result. Of course it tasted like canned soup but the mixture of beans, vegetables and beef tasted like something that could offer the right level of comfort for a sick day, for example. Just don’t ask me what it had to do with Casper.
- 1 can of condensed beef noodle (I used beef with vegetables)
- 1 can of beans with bacon
- 1 can of cream of celery soup
- 2 cans of water
- 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.
- Add all the ingredients to a medium saucepan and stir well.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
The second dish I decided to make is a Tomato Soup Cake. The idea of using tomato soup in a sweet cake was quite repulsive at first, but I was very curious about it. While there are no pumpkins in the recipe, the spiced cake is very reminiscent of the pumpkin pie spices. I also decided to decorate it like a pumpkin, similar to a vintage Betty Crocker Halloween cake I had since online.
I shared the cake with my co-workers and everyone agreed it tasted like carrot cake, without the carrots. Since carrot cake is my favorite kind of cake, I was quite pleased. The cream cheese frosting I made (the recipe suggested making your favorite frosting) probably helped the carrot cake feel as well. After making the cake, my mom mentioned that my grandma used to make tomato spiced cake all the time, although she never made frosting for it. I could definitely see how this cake would be moist enough to be served “naked”.
Tomato Soup Cake
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) of condensed tomato soup
- 1/2 cup of shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup of water
- Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Add soup and shortening. Beat at low to medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl constantly.
- Add the eggs and water. Beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the bowl frequently.
- Pour the batter in a greased and floured cake pan.
- Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).
- Let stand in pan for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a rack.
- Frost with cream cheese frosting or your favorite white frosting.
While I don’t know if I’ll make the soup again (canned soup has a lot of salt, y’all!), I might try to make a home version of it at some point. The cake, on the other hand, is likely to become a favorite as it was so easy and cheap to make, and tasted oh so good!