We’d be hard-pressed to find something we don’t love about soup. It’s customizable, comforting and simple to make. It’s found its way into our slow cooker and Instant Pot, plus it’s the O.G. one-pot meal. Another reason we love soup so much? It freezes like a dream, and that means it’s the ultimate lazy dinner (or leftover lunch). Stock your freezer with your favorite soups and stews and you’ll always be one step away from a homemade meal. Here’s exactly how to freeze soup (plus our favorite tools and recipes for the job).
How to Freeze Soup
1. Make your soup and (this part’s important) cool it completely
You can’t stick a giant pot of steaming soup straight into your fridge or freezer for a few reasons. For starters, it won’t cool down fast enough—bacteria love to hang out at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (the “danger zone” in culinary speak), and that’s a recipe for food-borne illness. On the same note, putting anything piping hot in your refrigerator will increase the overall temperature inside, putting the rest of your leftovers and perishables at risk of heating up to the danger zone (dun dun dun). And besides, hot soup will freeze unevenly and reheat into unappealing mush. Instead, cool the soup by placing the pot in a bath of ice water in the sink and stirring frequently. (We know this seems fussy, but it’s the best way to keep your leftovers safe to eat.)
2. Portion and pack the soup
When the temperature of the soup is below 40°F, pack it into airtight storage containers. Don’t forget to label and date them to avoid finding the dreaded mystery container in the depths of your freezer six months later. When in doubt, portion your leftovers into smaller amounts rather than in bulk. You can always pull out an extra quart if needed, but if you thaw the entire gallon of chili, you can’t save what you don’t finish (that pesky bacteria). We like these quart-size deli containers, which are cheap, dishwasher- and microwave-safe, and stackable, but silicone storage bags are another favorite. They’re an eco-friendly alternative to zip-top baggies and can save a ton of space, plus they’re practically indestructible.
3. Freeze the soup
Stick those labeled, dated, cooled containers of soup in the freezer and pat yourself on the back. As long as you’ve stored and sealed it correctly, frozen soup will last up to three months in the freezer without developing freezer burn or changing in flavor or texture.
What Soups Don’t Freeze Well?
Not all soups are made equal, and some just don’t fare well in the freezer. That includes…
- Soups with starchy ingredients, like pasta, potatoes or rice. These ingredients will turn mushy when you reheat.
- Soups with dairy, which have a tendency to separate when thawed.
- Soups with seafood can develop funky, fishy flavors when frozen.
- Soups thickened with cornstarch or eggs tend to become thin and watery on their second go.
Toppings will lose their textural appeal if frozen, but luckily this one is an easy fix. Just hold off on crunchy ingredients (like tortilla chips or croutons), fresh herbs, cheese and pesto until reheating and serving. And we’d advise the same for leafy greens (like kale, chard or spinach), which can get weird in the freezer. Reheat the soup first, then add them fresh.
What Kind of Soups Freeze Best?
- Broth-based soups freeze the best, since they won’t change in texture. You can freeze vegetables and meat too, but hold any starchy ingredients or toppings until you want to eat.
- Bean soups freeze and reheat beautifully, and that includes lentils, split peas and chickpeas.
- Meaty soups and stews will keep their hearty texture, and we’d even venture to say they taste better as leftovers. We see you, chili.
- Pureed soups that are veggie-based and don’t contain a lot of dairy also freeze well (and surprisingly, that includes potato).
How to Thaw and Reheat Frozen Soup
When you want to enjoy your thoughtfully stashed soup, the safest way to thaw it is in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, that does require a little planning. In a pinch, you can speed up the process by thawing it in its container in hot water for about ten minutes, before transferring to the microwave or into a saucepan. And voilà, you just made dinner while barely lifting a finger.
5 Soups We Keep in Our Freezer:
White Turkey Chili with Avocado
Instant Pot Spicy Thai Butternut Squash Soup
Slow-Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (add the pasta and garnish after reheating)
Spring Pea Soup with Mint (add the heavy cream and garnish after reheating)
Canal House’s Carrot Soup