Kitchn Love Letters

The Soup I Stash in My Freezer Every Cold and Flu Season

published Jan 18, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Soup may be the cure for whatever ails us, but what do you do when what ails you makes you too tired and too sick to cook soup (or anything)? The answer is to stock your freezer with super-nourishing soups while you (and everyone else) are well. Most soups and stews freeze beautifully, so it’s up to you to decide what you want when you inevitably come down with whatever bug is going around. For me and my family, it’s Kitchn’s Classic Minestrone.

Minestrone (from a can) was my childhood comfort food and Kitchn’s Classic Minestrone has become the go-to soup for crappy days, cruddy colds, and more in my house. It is my absolute favorite soup to stock our freezer with, not just because it’s delicious, but because it’s a terrific soup to freeze and reheat.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Why I Always Have Minestrone in My Freezer

Minestrone is a classic Italian soup with a thick tomatoey broth, tender vegetables, beans, and sometimes pasta or rice. Many versions start with pancetta or bacon, and almost all of them include Parmesan (either the rind or grated on top).

Kitchn’s Classic Minestrone has become my new favorite since trying it out a few months ago. First of all, it uses vegetables that you can pretty much find year round and, possibly more importantly, that my kids will eat.

There’s also the addition of a generous dollop of pesto, a smart tip we borrowed from Ina Garten’s Winter Minestron, which adds flavor, richness, and plenty of sinus-clearing garlic. This is especially smart for brightening up a batch of soup that has been reheated from the deep freeze. The herbs and acidity of the pesto wakes up each bowl of soup!

Finally, thanks to the fact that this soup calls for white beans and no pasta, it freezes beautifully. Pasta doesn’t freeze well in soups because it absorbs excess liquid as the soup cools, freezes, and then thaws. This makes for reheated soups with little broth and mushy pasta. Kitchn’s recipe specifically skips the often included pasta in favor of white beans, which are just as satisfying, tender and creamy in the bowl as pasta — without getting weird in the freezer.

How to Freeze & Thaw Minestrone for When You Don’t Feel Well

Soup in the freezer is the greatest gift you can give your future sick self (or take to a sick friend), so while all my family is well and I have some extra time this weekend, I’m making a double batch of Kitchn’s Classic Minestrone. A double batch will make about 12 servings for my family, so I plan to divide the soup into one “family-size” serving of four as well eight individual servings.

The family portion will go into a gallon sized zip-top bag to be frozen flat on a sheet pan until solid. The single servings can be frozen in a one cup portions using a muffin pan (though I’ve had my eyes on these soup cubes) and then moved to a zip-top bag for longer term storage.

When one of us is feeling under the weather, a single portion can be reheated in the microwave (add a splash of water or broth to thin the thickened broth), topped with a spoon of pesto (which I always have in my fridge, but can be stored in your freezer as well!), and have them feeling better with minimal effort and maximum comfort.

What’s your family’s favorite soup for sick days?