How to Safely Store and Reheat Homemade Soup (2024)

There are few things more reassuring than knowing you've got homemade soup waiting for you at home on a cold winter day. Making soup can be somewhat meditative; assembling and chopping the ingredients, then standing over the pot while the onions soften in butter or the spices sizzle and bloom in oil. Once the liquid (stock or water) has been added and the cooking is underway, you can step aside and go about your other business, but the delicious aromas of the meal you've been preparing will begin wafting throughout the house.

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Why Homemade Is Best

The benefits of homemade soup are many: You control the ingredient list, using just what you like and leaving out what you don't, and you can use ingredients you know are good for you. Of course, it's also more economical than buying pre-made soup. And just think how satisfied you'll feel once you've eaten your bowlful and put some away in the refrigerator for later in the week, or the freezer for a day, further down the road, when you need a little bit of extra comfort.

Whether you're making stock from scratch or using store-bought (of course, we'd vote in favor of homemade stock any day), it's well worth the effort to make your own soup, and just getting into the kitchen and preparing it might make you feel good. Portions for one, two, or many can be put away in the fridge or freezer for a rainy day. The trick is knowing how to pack it away for reheating in the most efficient and safe way.

How Long Can You Store Soup?

You might be surprised to know that some soups will keep almost one week in the fridge. Assuming that your refrigerator is kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the storage length really depends on two things: what's in the soup, and how efficiently it was cooled down. Many recipes will give you a conservative length of time for storage, so the best thing to do is learn to trust your nose and taste buds, and always be on alert for funky smells and sourness.

In the refrigerator

A general rule of thumb is that soup can be stored in the refrigerator for about three days, but you should always taste your dish before deciding to reheat. A clear, vegetable-based soup with some acidity, such as tomatoes, may last longer. Chicken soup usually lasts three to five days. Creamy soups will most likely last three days, and seafood soup two or three days.

In the freezer

Depending on the ingredients in your soup, a frozen batch can last you up to three months, assuming your freezer is the appropriate temperature, 0 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal, according to the USDA. As with refrigerated soups, trust your gut after defrosting. If the soup seems questionable, you're better off tossing it.

Cooling and Preparing Soup for Storage

The key to cooling and reheating foods safely is speed. This is easier to achieve when working with small amounts. The larger the vat of soup, the longer it takes to cool down—and therein lies the risk of spoilage.

Professional kitchens use an ice bath: Place a container of soup in a larger container and fill it with ice water to come up to the same level as the soup. Stir from time to time as it cools to speed things up. Once it is at room temperature the soup can be divided, covered, and refrigerated or frozen. Don't cover it until then, that would only slow down the cooling time.

Freezing and Defrosting Soup

Not all types of soup should be frozen. Those made with cream or milk, such as chowders and bisques, separate and become grainy if frozen. If you want to freeze a soup that contains pasta, rice, or other grains, wait to add these ingredients until you reheat and serve the soup, otherwise the texture of the pasta and rice will become mushy with freezing and thawing.

Be sure not to overfill the container as the soup will expand as it freezes. Leave about an inch of space between the soup and the top of the container. And always label! That way you'll know which is the soup you want to defrost rather than trying to guess between two similar looking pots in the freezer.

Defrosting should always happen in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Remember that a large pot of soup might take longer than overnight to defrost in the refrigerator. Never defrost soup by leaving it on the counter. Also, don't reheat a portion more than once—just take out what you will eat and keep the rest of it cold.

Reheating Soup

Soup is easy to reheat, whether on the stovetop or in the microwave. A handy rule to remember is that if you are reheating a chicken or meat broth or clear soup, bring it to a boil for three minutes to be sure of killing off any possible harmful bacterial growth. Soups are, in a way, the most flexible of foods when it comes to storage and reuse because they can be brought to a boil without risk of scorching. This is harder to do with soups that are thickened with flour or cream, or those that are mainly seafood; they might over-reduce, becoming too salty, thick, or cloudy. As long as you trust that the soup doesn't smell or taste "off" when you take it out of the refrigerator, bring it just to a boil and then lower the heat and stir as it simmers gently for three more minutes.

How to Safely Store and Reheat Homemade Soup (2024)


How to Safely Store and Reheat Homemade Soup? ›

A general rule of thumb is that soup can be stored in the refrigerator for about three days, but you should always taste your dish before deciding to reheat. A clear, vegetable-based soup with some acidity, such as tomatoes, may last longer. Chicken soup usually lasts three to five days.

How do you store leftover homemade soup? ›

We let the soup cool down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge for a maximum of three days. This will prevent the formation of condensation, which can make the soup watery and affect its flavor. It's essential to note that soups that contain milk or cream don't generally hold up well in the freezer.

How do you reheat soup safely? ›

Reheat leftovers thoroughly to at least 165 °F. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil. On stove top: Place food in pan and heat thoroughly. The food should reach at least 165 °F on a food thermometer when safely reheated.

How long can you keep homemade soup in the fridge? ›

Refrigerating Soups and Stews

You can, if you have room, even refrigerate the whole pot with the soup in it. But regardless of what you store it in, soups and stews will keep in the refrigerator for around three days.

Can you eat homemade soup after 7 days? ›

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. Leftovers can be kept for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. After that, the risk of food poisoning goes up. If you don't think you'll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them right away.

Can you leave homemade soup out overnight? ›

So, yeah: Toss that soup that sat out overnight. Now, to the question of whether or not boiling it will kill off these bugs -- that might be technically true, but it comes with a big caveat. To be completely safe, you'll have to boil the soup vigorously for 10 minutes.

Can you store homemade soup in mason jars? ›

If you're freezing liquids such as soups or broth, using a tapered mason jar is even more essential because of expansion. Keep the lid loose, at first: Wait to tighten the lids until the contents in the jar have fully frozen. You'll want to keep your jars upright while your food is freezing.

Why shouldn't you reheat soup more than once? ›

Each time food is cooled, stored and reheated, the likelihood of harmful bacteria multiplying increases. If you do end up with leftovers, it is much safer to either freeze them or reheat them just once.

How to preserve homemade soup? ›

Fill canning jars halfway with solids from the soup mixture. Continue filling jars with hot liquid from the soup mixture, leaving 1" headspace. Process in a pressure canner. Use 11 pounds pressure for dial-gauge canner or 15 pounds pressure for weighted-gauge canner.

Can I put reheated soup back in the fridge? ›

In practice, this means transferring hot foods to shallow containers to cool to room temperature, and then transferring the covered containers to the fridge to continue cooling. It's not a good idea to put hot foods straight into the fridge.

How long should you let homemade soup cool before refrigerating? ›

The food danger zone is that place between 40 and 140 °F where pathogens grow most quickly. It can take a long time to get through the danger zone when cooling a large batch of chili, soup or stew. The soup must cool from 140 to 70 °F in 2 hours and from 70 to 40 °F in no more than 4 hours.

How do you know if soup has gone bad? ›

Signs that your soup has gone out of date include discoloration, a foul-smelling odor, and a bad taste.

Why is homemade soup better the next day? ›

A report from BBC Science Focus says that when your bolognese, stew or curry is sitting on the shelf in your fridge, it's getting more flavoursome by the minute even though it's no longer on the stove, because the ingredients are still marinating and breaking down like they would in a super slow cook.

Can you boil bacteria out of soup? ›

On most occasions, you shouldn't leave soup out overnight. This is because when the stock in the soup cools below 130°F, dangerous bacteria can multiply. If you do decide that you want to leave soup out overnight, it's recommended that you boil the soup for 10 minutes to kill any active bacteria.

Can I eat soup that was made 5 days ago? ›

Make a large batch of soup and enjoy some for another meal. Many soups, with the possible exception of seafood soups, may taste better the next day! For best safety and quality, plan to eat refrigerated soup within 3 to 4 days or freeze it. And avoid letting soup set at room temperature for more than TWO hours.

Is 3 day old soup OK to eat? ›

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), soups and stews containing meat and vegetables will be safe to eat for three to four days if refrigerated. The Hong Kong Centre for Food Safety (CFS) recommends setting your fridge temperature at 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) or below.

How do you refrigerate soup after cooking? ›

A large pot of food like soup, chili or stew should be divided into small portions and put in shallow containers before being refrigerated. A large cut of meat or whole poultry should be divided into smaller pieces and wrapped separately or placed in shallow containers before refrigerating.

How long can leftover soup be held for? ›

How to make leftover food last longer
CategoryFoodRefrigerator (40 °F or below)
Soups & StewsVegetable or meat added3 to 4 days
LeftoversCooked meat or poultry3 to 4 days
Chicken nuggets or patties3 to 4 days
Pizza3 to 4 days
13 more rows

Can you store 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 store food in containers that are made from safe plastics and do not contain polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, or polystyrene.


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