Did you know that soup can be prepared and then frozen for a quick and easy dinner on another day? The best way to freeze soup is by first letting it cool in an ice bath. Next, you pour it into a zip-top plastic freezer bag and then simply lay it flat in the freezer. Pretty easy, right? There are a few other things to consider when freezing soup, but don’t worry—we’ll tell you everything you need to know about storing soup in the freezer safely.
Can You Freeze Soup?
Absolutely, you can!
When you’re preparing a fresh batch of soup, there are vegetables to chop, seasonings to buy, and a counter full of extra ingredients that give your concoction just the right flavor. The rich reward of homemade soup takes a lot of work! It hardly makes sense to go through all that trouble just to make a couple quick servings, and this is why freezing soup is such a popular cooking trend. Storing soup in the freezer is a great way to preserve those savory leftovers without sacrificing the taste and consistency.
How To Best Freeze Soup, Step-by-Step
Freezing leftover soup is more than a great way to store your leftovers; it’s an excellent and healthy meal prep idea. When frozen in individual portions, soup makes a great grab-n-go in the morning and can keep other things cold in your lunch bag!
Ready to learn how to freeze and store soup so you can enjoy it later? Just follow these steps on how to best freeze soup.
1. Let the Soup Cool
The safest way to cool your soup and prevent food-borne bacteria is to use an ice bath. Fill your sink with cool water and ice, but not too full that it will spill over into your pot. Carefully place the pot in the sink of water and ice. Add ice as the hot pot warms the water, and occasionally stir for even cooling.
2. Label Your Containers
While your soup is cooling, label your containers. Using a Sharpie on locking freezer bags, plastic containers, or on the lid of glass jars, write the contents and the date.
Identifying the container contents is essential. You may think you’ll remember what all is in the freezer, but when you pull out pumpkin for Thanksgiving and aren’t sure if it’s pureed pumpkin or squash soup, you’ll be glad you took the time to label it. You can also buy labels on which you can write or print.
3. Fill Your Containers with Yummy Goodness
Fill your containers, leaving enough room for the soup to expand as it freezes. A benefit to using glass jars for freezing is that they tend to be more airtight. (Just leave about an inch of space for the soup to expand as freezing so the jar doesn’t break.) When using plastic freezer containers, try to find the kind you can “burp” to release excess air.
You should also press the excess air out of freezer bags before sealing. Sealing the bag tightly will help keep ice crystals from forming and watering down your soup.
When using freezer bags, a bag holder makes hands-free filling easier. Instead of a holder, you can do the same by placing the freezer bag in a bowl and fitting the edges over the side of the bowl.
4. Transfer to the Freezer
Plastic freezer containers are nice because they stack neatly. Glass jars take more room, but as mentioned, they’re more airtight. Some people prefer glass because of the chemicals that plastics may exude.
When you transfer your freezer bags, lay them flat. Put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer first to prevent them from forming to the freezer rack. When they’re frozen, you can stack them.
Knowing the right way to freeze your soup and how to store soup in the freezer will provide a convenient way to have delicious soup available anytime you like.
How Long Can You Keep Soup in the Fridge Before Freezing?
Maybe you thought you’d be able to eat all that soup before it spoiled. Maybe you’ve just been so busy that you forget to move it to the freezer. Either way, it’s important to take into account your ingredients before you let soup sit in the fridge for much longer.
Any kind of meat will likely go bad within three days time, four days tops. So, if your soup contains chicken, beef, pork, or any other type of meat, you need to get that batch in the freezer within three days of preparing the soup. If it’s a vegetable soup, you may get away with an extra day or two, but why risk it?
We recommend freezing your soup the same day you cook it. Anything you’re not ready to eat immediately should be stored in the proper containers and placed in the freezer right away. If you always get your soup in the freezer the same day you cook it, you eliminate the risk of food poisoning. The Federal Food Safety Information says you can freeze it within three to four days of making.
How Long Can You Freeze Soup?
Now let’s talk about how long your soup will last once it’s actually in the freezer. According to the Federal Food Safety Information, you can freeze your soup for anywhere between two to three months. If the soup was properly prepared, stored, and defrosted before reheating, this time frame serves as the standard rule of thumb for frozen soup.
Does that mean that you should store it in the freezer for three months? We don’t suggest you do -- not if you can help it. The longer you freeze your soup, the less fresh it will taste once you reheat it. Despite the protection of the freezer containers, any kind of food that remains in the freezer for very long becomes susceptible to tiny ice crystals that form in the fibers of the food and compromise not only the taste, but the texture as well.
For this reason, there is a right way to freeze certain kinds of soup. For example, can you freeze soup with cream in it? We’ll tell you. But first let’s talk about freezing techniques.
How Do You Freeze Soup in Individual Portions?
Learning how to store soup in individuals portions will make all the difference in the quality of your reheated meals. Rather than dumping your whole batch into one container, divvy it into small freezer containers of one serving, leaving about an inch of space between the soup and the lid. There are a few different reasons to store soup in individual portions.
For one thing, the smaller the amount, the better the soup will cool, freeze, and reheat. You’ll find that smaller portions maintain taste and consistency much better than mass batches, because the portion can cool and freeze more evenly. When you’re storing several servings in one container, the center will take longer to freeze, which allows for ice crystals to form and disrupt the flavor and texture.
Some soups contain ingredients that are capable of expanding under extreme temperatures. It’s harder to gauge how much expansion to prepare for when storing soup in large quantities, whereas small portions call for an inch of extra space within the container. This is important for knowing how to store soup in individual portions: always allow for expansion.
What Are the Best Containers for Freezing Soup?
No matter what you choose to use when storing soup in the freezer, whether it be bags or jars, the most important thing is to make sure that you are using a container designed for freezer storage. Any other type of container won’t be able to withstand the chill without cracking.
There is a big difference between regular bags and containers vs. freezer bags and containers. Don’t risk busting one of your favorite containers or finding frost-bitten soup due to cracks in the barrier. You can find freezer versions of plastic disposable plastic containers right beside those that are designed for mild temperatures. Choose Tupperware and similar reusable plastic containers that are meant for freezing (for example, Tupperware uses a snowflake icon on freezer-friendly containers). Glass containers such as mason jars can be freezer-friendly when you leave sufficient expansion space.
How to Freeze Soup in Plastic Containers, Mason Jars, Glass Containers, and Tupperware
No matter what you’re storing your soup in, whether it’s glass or plastic, always remember to let your soup cool before placing it in the freezer. A piping-hot tub of soup can easily develop food-borne bacteria because of the time it will take to cool and freeze. It can also compromise the temperature of the other foods in your freezer.
Whenever you’re storing soup in the freezer in a plastic or glass container, it’s important that you leave room for the food to expand without causing the container to crack. At the very least, leave a ¾-inch space at the top of the container for the food to expand. On the other hand, you don’t want to leave too much space because the more air inside the storage container, the faster your soup can develop freezer burn. Ideally, you should leave just less than an inch of space between the surface of the soup and the lid.
Always freeze soup in small or even individual portions as to avoid a stall in cooling time and prevent risking foodborne illnesses.
Is It Safe to Freeze Soup in Plastic Containers?
It is safe to freeze your soup in plastic containers, so long as they’re the right containers. Not all plastics are made equal. Always be sure to store food in containers that are made from safe plastics and do not contain polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, or polystyrene. These compounds may break down during freezing, causing damage to the container and worse, allowing chemicals to leach into food. Another great option for the “better safe than sorry” are the plastic containers that are BPA Free.
Best Soups to Freeze
Just like the plastic containers we keep them in, not all soups are meant to be frozen. As a general rule, soups that are broth-based freeze well. Rice, beans, and soups with meat freeze well, while soups containing starchy vegetables, noodles, and cream can be more tricky. Below, we’ve included a few tricks to help you successfully freeze different varieties of soup.
Can You Freeze Potato Soup?
Freezing potato soup isn’t ideal because the potatoes will fall apart and create a strange chunky consistency. Thawing and reheating can also lead to a mushy texture, so save the potatoes for the fresh recipes.
Can You Freeze Chicken Noodle Soup?
Freezing chicken noodle soup is possible, but there’s a trick to it. If you want whole noodles that aren’t broken apart by the time you thaw and reheat, then freeze the chicken noodle soup without the noodles. When you’re ready to eat it, whip up a fresh pot of noodles while the soup thaws and add them to the reheated batch.
Can You Freeze Cream Soups?
Cream soups have a tendency to really thicken up in the freezer, so you’ll need to be patient when it comes time to thaw and reheat. When reheated too quickly, creamy soups can lose their smooth consistency. Patience is the secret to freezing cream soup in order to maintain taste and consistency during the extreme temperature transitions. Consider thawing frozen soup overnight in the refrigerator and slowly warming over low heat. These leftovers aren’t really intended to be a quick, last-minute dinner idea; they take time.
The Best Ways to Reheat Frozen Soup
There are multiple ways to reheat frozen soup once it has thawed. Use this quick guide to reheating frozen soup and choose the method that works best for you.
Microwave: Once partially or completely thawed, empty freezer container into a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Poke holes in the wrap for ventilation and microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring once or twice at intervals to maintain an even consistency. Repeat if necessary.
Stove: Place the frozen soup into a pot. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot to prevent the pot from scorching when cooking partially thawed soup. Cook over medium-high heat until heated through. Stir frequently.
Crockpot: We do not recommend using a crock pot or slow cooker to reheat your frozen soups, whether they’re thawed or not. These appliances will keep cold food at unsafe temperatures for too long. Use a microwave or stove top instead for a quick and easy meal.
Instant Pot: Unlike a crock pot, an instant pot is a great way to reheat frozen soup. Use the pressure-cooker function to cook the frozen soup for 5 minutes. That’s it! Avoid reheating cream-based soups in an instant pot.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Soup Quickly
The safest and best way to thaw frozen soup is to transfer it to the refrigerator the day before. However, if you’re in a time crunch, you can submerge your airtight freezer container in a bag or bowl of cold water—which usually takes about an hour per pound of frozen soup—or defrost it in the microwave, stirring frequently.
How Long Does Defrosted Soup Last?
If you thaw your frozen soup in the fridge for the appropriate amount of time (about 24 hours), then the soup should stay good in the refrigerator for three to four days.
If you defrosted your soup using a quicker method, throw out what you don’t eat.
How to Tell if Frozen Soup is Bad
As is the case with other types of frozen food, you’ll know if your soup has gone bad if it is discolored or foul-smelling. You may not be able to tell while it’s frozen, but you’ll definitely be able to tell once it’s thawed.
Can You Thaw and Refreeze Soup?
Yes, you can thaw and refreeze soup, so long as you reheat it again before putting it back in the freezer. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends bringing thawed food to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before refreezing.
Are you ready to stock up on scrumptious soups to store in the freezer and reheat on a chilly day? Check out Spoonful of Comfort’s soup collection, complete with creamy tomato soup and the fan-favorite chicken noodle soup!