Animal Cracker Soup

photo by cathy nelson arkle
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.

barnum-animal-crackers box

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.

Today’s Recipe 

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


  • 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


  1. Add all the ingredients, except kosher salt into a food processor.
  2. Process until a dough forms. (3-5 minutes)
  3. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Remove dough from the refrigerator and let it soften for 5 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Roll the dough out on a smooth surface until it is about ⅛ inch thick.
  8. Use your favorite animal cookie cutters to cut out crackers.
  9. Sprinkle the cutout crackers with kosher salt if desired.
  10. Place the animal crackers on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper.
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are barely golden.
  12. 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.
  13.  Store in an airtight container.


Sweet Tomato Soup

Adapted from Dorothy Reinhold of


  • 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


  1. Drain the canned cannellini beans in a colander, and rinse them well. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Fun Facts:

  • 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 blog!”   Please check it out.

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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15 Responses to Animal Cracker Soup

  1. shockinglydelicious April 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    Oh yeah, that sweet tomato soup rocks! So glad you played with it!

    • cathyarkle April 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks Dorothy for the great recipe to start with. Your recipes are so solid, it gives people like me a great springboard to experiment with.

  2. Cheri Cameron Newell April 14, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    WOW… I’m so enthralled watching Shirley Temple that I forgot about the recipe… although it looks really good!!!

    • cathyarkle April 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      I was enthralled with the video as well. What fun. You should try the recipe as it is easy and fun.

  3. Erika Penzer Kerekes (@erikakerekes) April 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Of course, these are completely adorable. I would have expected nothing less!

    • cathyarkle April 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      Thanks Erika! No reason you should have fun with your food! 🙂

  4. Julie Grose April 16, 2013 at 1:48 am #

    Yum! I love tomato soup and this one sounds really healthy and wholesome with the cannelli beans in it. Can’t wait to try it! Time to dig through my Shirley Temple collection and find that movie to watch again! (I really DO have a collection). The crackers look adorable and very tasty! To whomever it may concern – looks like several nice animal cookie cutter collections available on Amazon. Cathy you are amazing! Thanks for tapping in to your inner child! Hope you win the contest! Love, Cousin Julie

    • cathyarkle April 17, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Hi Julie, this soup recipe is a staple in our house. Please try it. My inner child has been hanging out quite a bit lately! 🙂

  5. Nusrat Azim April 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Love the way you placed the cute monkey cracker 🙂 Amazing photos, as always.

    • cathyarkle April 23, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Thanks Nusrat, it was a fun assignment for National Animal Cracker Day.

  6. Mimi Holtz May 6, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    You are so right…small cookie cutters are almost impossible to find. Either they’re teeny or too big. Love your animal crackers theme. My earliest memory of grocery shopping with my mother included buying a box of those circus animal crackers to share with 3 younger siblings. I wish we could relive those preschool discussions about the various animals…who should have which, and how we planned to eat them! Thanks for the memories!

    • cathyarkle May 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      I love your childhood memories Mimi! How to eat an animal cracker is always a great discussion. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Fresh Food in a Flash August 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    How fun. I want to make these. Thanks for the step back in time with the video too.

    • Cathy August 30, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      Thanks Patricia, it is such a fun meal that will make even the grumpiest person smile. 🙂


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