By learning how to freeze soup, you can avoid freezer burn and mushy leftovers.
Soup is the ideal recipe to prepare ahead of time and freeze. Since most soups can be frozen for at least three months, it's an excellent dish to prepare on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy for weeks.
However, freezing soup is more complicated than throwing the chicken tortilla soup in the freezer. When it comes to freezing broth, there are a few tricks to ensure that it tastes just as fine as it did when it was young.
Is Soup Freezable?
Yes, in the vast majority of situations. However, you won't be able to freeze some old broth. Few soup preparations are more prepared for freezing than others, just as some meals freeze better than others.
Soups of starch should not be frozen.
When frozen, those starches absorb all of the moisture and become soggy when reheated. That's why we don't recommend freezing soups that contain the following ingredients:
- Cubed potatoes
There are a few variations to the law, however. Pureed potatoes, such as those used in this Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Soup recipe, work well. Barley, oddly enough, retains its form and shape when frozen, so if you're looking for a filling soup, try one of these soothing barley soup recipes. Otherwise, set aside the spaghetti, rice, and potatoes before the soup has thawed.
Until freezing dairy-based soups, think twice.
Many dairy-based soups should not be frozen because they can taste grainy when reheated. However, if you want to freeze dairy-heavy leftovers like chowder, there are a few tips to keep the soup as smooth as the day it was made:
When cooling and reheating the soup, avoid boiling it.
Reheat the broth with a little heavy cream or sour cream whisked in.
Apply a cornstarch slurry to the reheated broth gradually. It'll take two parts cold liquid to one part cornstarch.
What's the safest way to stay away from the strange texture? Keep the dairy, much like the starches. If the recipe calls for cheese or cream as a topping, hold off on using it until you're ready to eat. When reheating the thawed broth, just pour it back in. There are a variety of benefits to using broth or storage as a basis.
What are the Best Freezer Soups?
Although the rules above can seem restrictive, believe us when we say there are plenty of fantastic freezer-friendly soup choices. This slow-cooked chicken enchilada soup, as well as this brothy steak soup, are freezer favourites in our Test Kitchen. For more ideas, see our full list of soups that freeze well in the best containers for freezing soup.
Soups that can be frozen
White chicken soup
Hearty baked chicken soup
Vietnammese chicken soup
What Is the Best Method for Freezing Soup?
It's easy to figure out how to freeze soup; just follow our instructions for the best results.
Step 1: Decide on a serving size
Freezing soup in one- or two-person servings not only speeds up the freezing process, but it's also a great way to prepare a lunch or dinner ahead of time for smaller families. Before you freeze, think about what is best for you.
Step 2: Choose the Appropriate Soup Container
If you don't want to wait for soup to thaw, go for a rectangular, reusable jar like Ziploc's freezer-safe Twist 'n Loc containers ($11). Run cool water over the outside of the bottle to open it up until you're about to eat. For fast reheating, simply pop the soup into a stockpot or Instant Pot.
For those who want to make the most of their freezer space: Fill freezer-safe quart- or gallon-sized plastic bags halfway with cooled broth. When the soup is fully frozen, freeze flat and stack.
Step 3: Let the Soup Cool
Don't let all of your hard work go to waste because you've been simmering the delicious slow cooker soup for hours! Before transferring the soup to a freezer bag, make sure it has reached room temperature. So, before freezing, put it in the fridge to cool down (to just below 40°). This is a general rule to follow while freezing food.
It can sound inconvenient, but freezing hot soup causes big ice crystals to form and uneven freezing. (Which means mushy broth as it comes out of the freezer!) Soup cooling also helps to keep the contents of your freezer secure. No one needs the steam from the hot broth to thaw out the rest of the ingredients.
Step 4: Don't Get Freezer Burned
Food that has been frozen-burned is safe to eat, but it does not taste so well. Fortunately, freezer burn should be avoided. Since the ice crystals that cause the burn are caused by air penetration, the first step in preventing freezer burn is to keep the air out.
Step 5: Labeling the Food Container
When freezing broth, this gets a bit trickier because liquid spreads when cooled. (Think of shattered soup jars!) It's crucial to avoid overfilling or underfilling the bottle. Allow 12 inches of headroom in the container while preparing soup.
If you're especially nervous about freezer burn, cover the surface of the liquid with plastic wrap, smooth it over the surface of the food, and then cover the jar with the lid. Using freezer-safe air-tight bags, such as these from Arrow ($15), also aids in keeping the air out.
If you have some unidentified food in the back of your freezer? Don't say anything else! Before freezing the broth, write the name of the dish, the date, and the reheating instructions on the outside of the bottle. Consider the following scenario: 9th of January; Flavorful White Chili Reheat on the stovetop and sprinkle with melted cheese before serving. This will help you remember what the food is, how long it lasts, even whether the recipe requires any additional measures.
Our Test Kitchen prefers to mark food containers with Post-it Extreme Notes ($20 for 12 pads). They are water-resistant and remain sticky for a long time.
What Is the Shelf Life of Homemade Soup in the Freezer?
Soups should be kept in the freezer for around 3 months for better consistency, but certain vegetable-based broth soups can be kept for up to 6 months.
If you don't want to take a chance on that rule, use the tried-and-true rule of thumb: if in doubt, toss it out. Toss it whether it smells or seems to be stale.