This tomato soup shrimp dip with cream cheese is the guilty pleasure everyone loves.
This tomato soup shrimp dip recipe is from the 1980s. My father died my mother moved back to her hometown. Shortly after she arrived she had this at a shower and asked for the recipe. But I was only five so I don’t remember any of that.
I do remember this being a special dip my grandmother would make for Christmas. If we were really lucky she’s make it another time of the year because we loved it so much.
When she started getting sick a few years ago I began to catalog her recipes. She was a terrible cook but a few things she did really well – he weekly Friday fish chowder, mashed potatoes, dressing and Christmas cherry balls.
Nanny’s Shrimp Dip
This is what we called it. This was not to be confused with the layered shrimp dip recipe that we also have at Christmas. Apparently Christmas is the season for shrimp.
Like most women of the era we soon discovered her peanut butter cookies were from the back of the jar and her cake icing was on the back of the bag. I thought this was her recipe too because she always made it. Yet, I assumed she found it on the back of a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. But as I started looking for the original recipe my mother shared she was the one who brought the recipe home.
Who Created the Tomato Soup Shrimp Dip?
I didn’t want to plagiarize someone else’s recipe or have the Campbell’s Soup and Philadelphia Cream Cheese legal team after me. I scoured online looking for the original author for this retro shrimp dip recipe.
It’s the quintessential 80s recipe using processed ingredients. I have found a few recipes for a tomato soup shrimp dip that also includes mayonnaise and gelatin to form a mold (gross – but apropos for the time).
I’ve also seen a similar recipe that uses cream of shrimp soup – something I’ve never seen and not sure if I want to…but hey who am I to judge the 80s. Especially as we still eat this every Christmas and I’m always sad when the dip bowl is empty.
I once brought this tomato soup shrimp dip to a foodie event. My friends at Well Preserved would host a pot luck style event at a bar. Each month there was a theme that professional and home cooks would use as inspiration for their dish. The month was “Getting Dippy” and people brought really elaborate, gourmet dips. And I had my 5 ingredients 80s dip…
Maybe mine wasn’t good at all? Maybe it was some crummy dip that I loved but others would find the combination of tomato soup and cream cheese horrific.
So I slid mine to the end of the bar and no one saw it.
But then toward the end of the night people left and it was a smaller group of friends. One of them noticed the dip and I fessed up it was mine.
They all loved it. And they wanted to know what was in it. Because somehow the flavour works so well and you can’t believe there are only five ingredients.
I ended up feeling more embarrassed that I wasn’t proud of something that I loved. Why should I care what other people think if I loved it? It’s a bit of a heavy revelation for a simple shrimp dip but it did change how I perceived food.
Actually it would have been better if everyone had hated it because it would have been more for me. Instead they ate all of it and I went home with none.
Retro Tomato Soup Shrimp Dip
I’m sure everyone has family traditions where they must eat the same thing every year. For this tomato soup shrimp dip we only eat original Breton crackers. My mother made the mistake one year of buying the less sodium version and dared to reach for a whole wheat version another year.
It pairs well with a really salty cracker. I’m sure a Ritz cracker would be great here too but we’ll never know. The powerful wrath of my sister discovering the cracker is different has
Note: be sure to cook on low heat or the cream cheese separates and makes for a weird texture, although it still tastes delicious.
I would love to know if you have a retro family recipe that is your guilty pleasure. What is the must eat dish at family events?