Keep a stash of hearty soups in your freezer and you'll always have a quick and easy answer to the dinnertime dilemma. Here's how to freeze and reheat soups, and what kinds of soups are best suited for the big chill.
Hot Tips for Freezing Soups
Choose the Right Soups. Best bets for freezing include bean soups and chilis, broth-based soups made without cream or milk, puréed soups, grain and wild rice soups, and vegetable soups.
Add Dairy After Thawing. Even though you shouldn't freeze soups made with milk or cream (they tend to separate when you freeze them) that doesn't mean cream soups are off the menu: Just make the soup without the dairy, and add it in after thawing and heating.
Undercook Vegetables and Pasta. Reheating frozen soup adds cooking time to all of the ingredients, which can result in overcooked vegetables and mushy pasta. When you're making soup to store in the freezer, take the pot off the heat while vegetables are still a bit underdone and pasta is firm to the bite. If you're planning to eat half the soup for dinner and freeze the rest, hold aside half of the underdone vegetables or pasta and finish cooking the rest.
Garnish With Herbs After Reheating. Fresh herbs lose their potency in the freezer; add them after you reheat the soup for a bright hit of flavor and color.
Cool and Flatten Before Freezing. Let soup cool before scooping it in 2- to 4-cup portions into freezer-safe bags. Squeeze out extra air and lay the bags flat on a baking sheet to freeze. This ensures that the soup freezes quickly and evenly, and will thaw quickly and evenly as well.
Mark the Bags. Be sure to write the date and type of soup on the bag. Soup should be eaten within 2 to 3 months of freezing, according to the USDA.
Three Ways to Thaw Soup
1. Fridge. Take a bag or two out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Put it in a bowl to catch any spills or drips just in case. If it's still partially frozen come dinnertime, you might still be able to break it up into small pieces and heat in a saucepan. You can wait to eat fridge-thawed soup for up to two days.
2. Running Water. Place a sealed bag of frozen soup in a deep bowl and run a small but steady stream of cold water over it until you can break the frozen soup into pieces to heat in a saucepan. This could take a while, depending on how thick the bag of soup is. (A good reason to freeze relatively thin, flattened bags of soup.) You should heat and eat the soup immediately.
3. Microwave. Place the bag of soup in a microwave-safe bowl large enough to hold all the liquid. Open the bag and set the microwave to the "low" or "defrost" setting. Defrost for one to two minutes at a time; slip the soup out of the bag and into the bowl, breaking it up when you can. Stir frequently. Microwave-thawed soup should be heated and eaten immediately.
5 Make-and-Freeze Soups to Try
Make and freeze the soup without the tortellini, undercooking the carrots a bit. After thawing, bring the soup to a simmer and add the tortellini plus a fresh handful of basil and chopped parsley.
Using turkey instead of the traditional pork gives this Mexican soup a lighter, healthier spin. Garnish with thinly sliced radishes, cabbage, and lime after thawing and heating.
You'll want to double the recipe to have plenty to freeze. Sprinkle with freshly minced cilantro and shredded cheese to serve.
Watch the video to see how Chef John puts this comforting soup together. If you hold some aside to freeze, undercook the pasta, or add in cooked pasta when you're reheating the soup. You can also refresh the Swiss chard when you toss the pasta in.
Barley is one of those hearty grains that freezes and reheats well. There's just enough in the recipe to thicken it a bit, but you might want to have some extra broth on hand when you reheat the soup just in case you need it.