Make a double batch of your favorite soup and freeze the leftovers, or whip up a soup specifically as a make-ahead freezer meal. Either way, it’s a great way to buy yourself some time and extend soup’s shelf life from the three to four days it lasts in the fridge to as long as three months.
It’s not quite as simple as tossing the soup in the freezer, though. There are a few tricks to freezing soup that ensure it’ll taste just as good as it did when it was fresh.
1. Certain Kinds of Soup Freeze Better Than Others
Unfortunately, you can’t freeze any ol’ soup. Just like how some foods freeze better than others, some soup recipes are better suited for preserving. Avoid freezing soups with pasta or rice, as the starches soak up all the liquid and become soggy when reheated. Similarly, soups made with potato pieces don’t freeze well, although the pureed versions hold up just fine.
Interestingly enough, barley keeps its texture and shape when frozen, so consider making one of these comforting barley soup recipes if you must freeze soup with a starch in it. Otherwise, hold the pasta, rice or potatoes and add them once the soup has thawed.
2. Think Twice About Freezing Dairy-Based Soups
We wouldn’t recommend meal-prepping any dairy-based soups, but you can freeze leftover soups like chowder if you must. Just be aware that the freezer does weird stuff to milk’s texture, and the soup will taste grainy when it thaws.
To minimize the damage, avoid boiling the soup before and after it goes in the freezer and try whisking some heavy cream or sour cream into the warm soup to repair the breakage. If that fails, you can also use a corn starch slurry. The best way to avoid the odd texture? Like our advice for starches, hold the milk and add it when you’re reheating the thawed soup.
3. Avoid Freezer Burn (Which Is Actually Pretty Easy)
Freezer-burned food is safe to eat, but it might not taste that great. Luckily, it’s easy to avoid! The ice crystals responsible for the burn are caused by exposure to air, so the first step in protecting your food from freezer burn is to keep the air out.
Using freezer-safe air-tight containers or plastic bags is the best way to keep a layer of freezer burn from ruining your soup. If you don’t have an air-tight container, place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the soup before covering it with the lid.
4. Never Freeze Hot Soup
If you toss hot soup into the freezer, it will develop large ice crystals and freeze unevenly. That means you’ll have mushy soup when it thaws.
For best results, cool your soup to at least room temperature (but, preferably, below 40° in the refrigerator) to help it freeze faster and better. This step also protects the contents of your freezer; no one wants the hot soup’s steam to thaw out all the other food.
5. How You Pack It Matters
Before you freeze soup, think about portion size. Freezing soup in one- or two-person portions is an easy way to create flexibility, and it also helps the soup freeze faster.
Then, choose your freezing vessel. If you won’t have time to thaw the soup before reheating it, consider freezing it in round, freezer-safe containers. When you’re ready to eat, run cold water over the outside of the container to loosen it. The soup will pop right out into a stockpot or Instant Pot. If maximum storage space is your primary concern, ladle the soup into freezer-safe quart- or gallon-sized plastic bags. Freeze them flat and stack them once the soup is fully frozen.
No matter which container you choose, always leave about 1½ inches of headspace. The soup will expand as it freezes, and you don’t want the container to crack or break!