In honor of National Animal Cracker Day (April 18th) I decided to use creative license to craft a recipe from one of my favorite childhood classic songs, “Animal Crackers in My Soup” sung by Shirley Temple in the 1935 film Curly Top.
If this movie was before our time, most of us remember the Barnum animal crackers from our childhood, which are alive and well, with 40 million circus train boxes sold each year. Long gone are the days that a box sold for just 5 cents back in 1902. Today a box costs around $1.25.
So, my first mission for this recipe was finding small animal cookie cutters. This turned out to be more difficult than I thought. I settled for larger-than-I-wanted cutters and decided to use a bigger bowl to accommodate my soup zoo.
I chose an easy tomato soup recipe to host my animal crackers, which are flavored with cheddar. This flavor combination is another paean to childhood – it is inspired by my favorite childhood comfort food of tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Hope you enjoy playing with your food as much as I do!
Homemade Cheese Crackers
Slightly adapted from Monique of DivasCanCook.com
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- Course kosher salt for sprinkling, optional
- Add all the ingredients, except kosher salt into a food processor.
- Process until a dough forms. (3-5 minutes)
- Shape the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it soften for 5 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Roll the dough out on a smooth surface until it is about ⅛ inch thick.
- Use your favorite animal cookie cutters to cut out crackers.
- Sprinkle the cutout crackers with kosher salt if desired.
- Place the animal crackers on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are barely golden.
- Let crackers sit in the pan for a minute before removing to a cooling rack. Crackers will crisp up more as they cool so be sure not to over bake.
- Store in an airtight container.
Sweet Tomato Soup
Adapted from Dorothy Reinhold of ShockinglyDelicious.com
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed or minced
- 2 (3-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and finely chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced & fire roasted tomatoes with organic green chilies in juice
- 3-4 tablespoons honey
- Pinch kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Drain the canned cannellini beans in a colander, and rinse them well. Set aside.
- Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, and then add the tomatoes, honey, salt, a few grinds of pepper, cannellini beans and the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, with the pot lid slightly ajar, for 20 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion blender to purée it right in the pot. Garnish with Cheddar Animal Crackers.
Makes 10 cups, or about 6 servings.
- Animal Crackers originated in England where they were known as animal biscuits.
- The famous Barnum’s animal crackers box was originally a Christmas ornament hung by a string. The string can still be found on boxes.
- 54 different animals have been created as animal crackers. The most popular brand, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, has featured 37 different animals since 1902.
In case you haven’t seen this charming song, here is Shirley Temple singing Animal Crackers in My Soup.
I hope you enjoyed a little nostalgic fun… “swallowing animals one by one“.
And remember… this recipe is a good excuse to play with your food.
…and then she paused 4 thought.
“I shared this as a guest post on the CookingContestCentral.com blog!” Please check it out.