Keep a few containers of homemade soup in the freezer and suddenly the long winter ahead doesn't seem so bad after all. That's because you can rest assured that you have a solid supply of sustenance to warm you to your bones. It's easy enough to make a double batch of your favorite and squirrel away half to defrost and simmer up again for another day, but there are a few keys to successfully freezing soup. Here's what to be mindful of.
This may seem obvious, but it's important to let the soup cool completely before sticking it in the freezer. While it's tempting to transfer it into the freezer soon after cooking, if it's even a little warm, it could lower the temperature of the freezer, potentially causing items already in it to defrost a little. Not to mention the issue of the quick temperature shift being a risk for food safety.
Follow this tip: Let the soup cool completely before freezing it. If you want to speed up this process, you can place the soup pot or container in an ice bath, stirring it every few minutes to cool it faster.
2. Overfilling or underfilling the container.
You may be determined to fit every last ladleful of soup into that freezer container, but stop before you overfill it. Liquids expand when they freeze, so if you fill the container to the top, you risk the soup expanding and possibly breaking through the container. This is especially a risk if you're using flimsy two-quart containers. On the other hand, you also don't want to underfill the container, as the more air inside, the faster freezer burn can occur.
Follow this tip: Leave about an inch of space between the soup and the container's lid when filling it. That will give the liquid enough room to expand, but will limit contact with air, which can cause freezer burn.
3. Freezing soup with pasta in it.
Pasta e fagioli and chicken noodle are some of the best soups to pull out from the freezer, as they are classic comfort food. However, the pasta in them just won't hold up well when defrosted and reheated — it basically turns into mush.
Follow this tip: When making any soup for freezing that contains pasta, hold the pasta back and freeze the soup without it. Then while you're reheating it, boil fresh pasta and add it directly to the rewarmed soup.
4. Freezing soup with milk or cream in it.
Soups that contain milk or cream, like chowders and bisques, also don't hold up well in the freezer — they tend to take on a grainy texture and separate when defrosted and rewarmed. While non-dairy milks like coconut milk hold up a little better, soups that are frozen with it still won't be the same when defrosted either.
Follow this tip: Hold back any dairy or non-dairy milk or cream if freezing a soup that calls for it. Then simply add it in when you've reheated the soup.
5. Overcooking vegetables in the soup you're freezing.
This particularly applies to potatoes, but really should be noted for all vegetables. Because you'll be reheating the soup later, any vegetables in it will continue to cook during this time. That means the chance for those perfectly tender chunks of potatoes to become too soft and mushy are highly likely.
Follow this tip: When making a soup that you plan to freeze, slightly undercook the vegetables. If you're making a big pot that you plan to eat half of now and freeze the rest, scoop out the portion you plan to freeze before the vegetables are done then continue to cook them until perfectly tender for the portion you're going to eat immediately.