Countdown to Soup Swap Day 10: How to Freeze Soup

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Less than a week to Soup Swap Day and if you're planning a swap -- unless you want a really annoying Friday night (trust me on this one) -- you should be narrowing down which soup you want to make and freeze. While you're agonizing over which soup really showcases your point of view as a chef, I've got tips that will guide you to freezer-friendly recipes and help you keep your masterpiece hauntingly flavorful (and safe to eat) when it's finally consumed.

Ingredients to Avoid When Freezing Soup


Some ingredients don't freeze that well; fortunately, they're almost always stuff you can add in when you're reheating the soup.

  • Eggs -- the one ingredient that I find really doesn't work to freeze. This includes eggs used as thickener for things like avgolemono, alas.
  • Potatoes. They get mealy. Some people are OK with that.
  • Cream or milk. It can separate, and I find it just tastes funny when it freezes. Doesn't hurt a bit to add it in when you reheat.
  • Pasta. Gets flabby. Add cooked pasta when you reheat.
  • Tofu -- gets chewier when you freeze it, which I actually like for soup, but if you're not looking for that texture, add it in when you reheat.

freezer full of soup
Image by Sporkist via Flickr

Picking Out Containers and Freezing Your Soup

  • Cool your soup thoroughly before you place it into a plastic container to freeze. This makes for faster freezing, which makes for smaller ice crystals, which makes for nicer defrosted soup. I usually take the soup out of the pot before putting it in the fridge (hot pots bring up the temp of the entire fridge -- no bueno for food safety). With many soups, you want to do that anyway, to let extra fat harden on top so you can remove it easily.
  • Use containers made for freezers. You will be sorry if you don't.
  • You can use plastic freezer bags, but note they will be messy to fill. If you do, fill them up and lie them flat on a cookie sheet so they freeze flat and stack.
  • Make sure to leave a little bit of space in any kind of container, as soup expands when it freezes. A quarter of an inch is fine; any more risks freezer burn. (Note: there are special rules for freezing in glass jars, which will burst if filled too full.)
  • Quart containers provide 4 cups of soup, which works for me as a meal for two.
  • Say it with me: Label your soups, people. Soup Swap has taught me well. I now label with the following: Date made, who made it, ingredients, special diet-compatibility (veg, vegan, gluten-free). I also tell myself what's missing from the soup: Add a cup of cream; mix in cooked pasta or rice; this wants potatoes; top with avocado, baked tortilla strips, chopped cilantro and sour cream, etc.
  • Soup has a freezer shelf life of two to three months.

Thawing and Reheating Soup

  • Thaw in the fridge (takes a day), under cold water (takes a couple of hours, submerge sealed container in cold water) or in the microwave in a microwave-safe container (minutes). Or just chuck your block of soup into a pot on the stove, heat and eat.
  • Check your seasonings before serving. Soup's flavors get more complex after the second day, but you might need to add some freshness and acid with chopped herbs, a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar.

What's your favorite soup to freeze?

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