Bested By a Can of Tomato Soup

How many grams of carbs are there in this, anyway?

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

July 2009 — For dinner on Tuesday night, I had some tomato soup with crackers.  While preparing it, I grew more and more frustrated with trying to calculate carbs until I finally fell apart.  My mental tug-of-war went something like this:

Okay, there are two and a half servings per can, mixed with milk instead of water – I have to remember to add those carbs.

I'm also eating crackers with my soup.  There are four crackers per serving at 9 grams of carbs per serving.  How many servings of crackers am I going to eat?  Wait; back to the soup, it's not even cooked yet.  Crackers can come later.  What did the label say?  Yes, two and a half servings per can.  Serving size is one-half cup condensed.  Who in the heck measures out their soup condensed?  All right, how about I cook the whole can, then split it out after it is done.  

So I've got two and a half times twenty grams per serving.  Okay, there are fifty grams of soup in the can.  Don't forget the milk – let's add in thirteen grams for a cup of skim milk.  Fifty plus thirteen is sixty-three.  There.  I've got sixty-three grams of carbs cooking in the pot there.  

Wait!  Is a "can" of milk the same as a "cup" of milk?  Crap.  Okay, think.  If there are two and a half servings of soup in the can, and each serving is ½ cup (condensed), then does that mean that there is one and one-forth cups in that can?  Sounds reasonable.  So, one cup of milk is thirteen grams, divided by four is … three point something?  Okay, close enough.  So I've got thirteen grams of carbs for the cup of milk and another three point something for the additional one forth cup.  I'm going to round down and call it all sixteen grams.  

Damn, my brain is tired already.  It's all simple math, I know, but I just want some freaking soup!  I don't want to take a math quiz!

Can I think about the crackers yet?  Yes.  How many crackers am I going to have with my soup?  Heck, I don't know!  Can't I just eat my soup with crackers until there is no more soup?  If I'm trying to be accurate with my carb count, I can't do that.  I've got to count my crackers.  

How about if I start with setting aside three servings?  I think I'll go with that, and can add more if I want to.  So three servings of crackers is twenty-seven grams of carbs (sheesh!).  How's my soup coming along? It's almost ready.

Now how do I measure out a single serving of soup?  I've already mentally math-pressed (like a bench-press, but with my math muscles?) a grand total of sixty-six grams of soup & milk.  How do I split it out into what I want to eat?  Great.  I feel more math coming up.  So I've got one and one-forth cups of condensed soup in the pot, and one and one-forth cups of milk in the pot.  That makes two and a half cups total, right?  Huh.  That number is suspiciously like the number of servings.  Does that mean that one cup equals one serving?  It sounds suspicious, like it is too easy.  But what about the milk, doesn't that throw the math off?  

My brain is math fatigued.  Can I just take my grand total of sixty-six grams and divide it by two and a half?  That's hard math for me right now!  I'm tired of math.  I just want my soup and crackers.  Oh yeah, the crackers.  More counting.

In the end, my tired brain just talked me right into the whole pot of soup.  See, I already had that number.  I had figured out the grand total, and dividing it all back up again just seemed so overwhelming at that point.  I know that it is not hard math, and I know that it is not overwhelming. But you have to understand that in that moment, it was more than I could do.  The numbers paralyzed me.  Adding in the crackers seemed easy to me after fighting with the soup.  Four equals nine, four equals nine, four equals nine, and so on.  But because I ended up eating the whole pot of soup, I had many more crackers too.  

I was thankful for how easy the crackers were to count.  There were no fractions or decimal points to wrestle with, no division to confuse me.  No extra ingredients to complicate matters.  But I was still bitter about all this counting and math for a simple dinner of soup and crackers.  

After I finished eating, I felt good, because that is what tomato soup and crackers can do (warmth, comfort, and satisfaction).  But I also felt defeated.  I was bested by a can of tomato soup.  My math muscles crumbled under the pressure, and I took the easy way out.

Visit Scott's blog.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 20, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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