Storage Tips

Our Every Question on Freezing (& Thawing) Soup—Answered

September 14, 2016

Instead of making a giant pot of soup and eating it 5 days in a row like my roommate and I did in college, think strategically: Not only is soup supremely delicious and comforting, it has an extraordinary lifespan—if you play your cards right.

But there are a few questions that might go through your head. Here are the answers so you can get to stocking your fridge for the months to come!

How Much to Freeze?

  • The key to becoming a soup maker is making extraordinary broths and stocks—and always having plenty in your freezer so soup-making comes together quickly. Freeze broth in usable portions: six-cups is a good start, but two- and four-cup quantities will also be useful.
  • Freeze soups in increments you can quickly thaw: 1 quart or 2 cup sizes are handy.
  • For both broth and soup, leave an inch at top for the liquid to expand as it freezes.

Do I Have to Label?

Good labeling is important, because no one wants mystery food in the freezer. Using painter’s tape or masking tape, label your broth or soup and its name and the date you made it.

What Date, Though?

For soups and broths, store for up to 5 days in the fridge, except for fish soups, which can be stored for up to 3 days. For soups, store for up to 3 months in the freezer, and for broths, freeze up to 6 months.

Okay, Containers.

If using glass containers, be sure they’re made of tempered glass that can be frozen. If you’re using any type of plastic, be sure it’s BPA-free. For to-go containers, the jars listed below are great options that I use regularly. If you want to keep your soup hot, get a thermos or other insulated container.

  • Weck jars
  • Ball jars (now available in tempered glass)
  • Snapware or similar glass storage containers
  • Ziplock bags
  • BPA-free plastic containers
  • To-go soup containers (usually lined with cardboard)

Ready to Eat! How Do I Thaw?

You have three options for thawing:

  1. If you have the time, the ideal method is to place the container of soup in the fridge for two days before you want to use it. It will thaw in a day or two, depending on the size and shape of the storage container.
  2. If you're in a rush, place the soup in its container in a warm water bath until it is fully thawed.
  3. The in-between option is to immerse the container in warm water to loosen the frozen soups from the sides. Then pop it out directly into a pot and let it thaw over medium-low heat, stirring to keep the soup from scalding.

Avoid thawing in the microwave, especially when the soup is in a plastic container. When plastic is heated, it can potentially leach chemicals into your food. And be careful when freezing and thawing in glass jars. Make sure the glass is tempered and can handle the extreme temperature changes. When soup is frozen in glass jars, it doesn’t pop out as easily as it does from plastic containers so leave extra time for thawing.

How Do I Warm It So It Tastes Good?

Many soups absorb most of the liquid when stored, resulting in a thick, paste-like consistency. Simply add ½ cup of broth or water, taste, and add a spritz of lemon juice, pinch of salt, or even fresh herbs if needed. Give it the spa treatment!

Any Tips for Planning Ahead? (So I Actually Freeze Soup)

Make a big pot of soup, eat half and freeze half. Next week, make another pot and do the same. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? A freezer with TWO types of delicious homemade soup ready to thaw.

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And once you really get into soup making, you’ll discover that it’s just as easy to make two soups at the same time. The reality is that once you have your broth in your freezer and the rest of the makings on hand, you’re more than halfway there. Pick two soups that are like cousins; the broth is the same and maybe the vegetables are different. Maybe you’re going to blend one. Do them simultaneously on the stove, and double your soup inventory.

What Soups Don’t Freeze Well?

There are very few that don’t. Here are some things you’ll want to be careful of:

  • Don’t freeze starch (rice, quinoa, or pasta) in your soup. First thaw your soup, then add your starch. Otherwise, your soup absorbs all your liquid and becomes a gummy, starchy soup when you thaw it. Ugh!
  • Sweet potato soups freeze well. Potato soups are not the most freezable because they turn gummy.
  • Cream and milk soups separate and become grainy and gross. Coconut milk is fine, though.
  • Does your recipe call for adding fresh herbs at the end? Freeze without, then add fresh herbs when you thaw and reheat.

Finally: Be diligent about your freezer inventory. It’s a sad day when you waste soup, so keep an eye on those labels and eat before the expiration date.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“For soup I also find it handy to freeze, then remove from container and vacu-seal it in a bag. Remove block from bag and let thaw in pan. :)”
— Marion G.

When you have soup in your freezer, it’s like having gold. You never know when you’ll want to give soup love to family, friends or yourself. What a precious gift!

For more soup recipes and smarts, Rebecca's book is Clean Soups.

What's your favorite soup to keep all the time in the freezer? Tell us in the comments.


Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Cynthia Navarro
    Cynthia Navarro
  • Jess
  • Patty
  • Marion Groth
    Marion Groth
  • Rebecca
Cookbook Author


Cynthia N. November 11, 2018
I bought Oprahs soup chicken and wild rice and I froze it today and now I see it says refrigerate don't freeze .Can I defrost it by placing in warm water and then cook on stove or is there is some reason I can't eat it now
Author Comment
Rebecca November 11, 2018
Hi Cynthia,
You can thaw as you described and eat your soup now.
Jess February 1, 2017
I have recently frozen some chili in freezer ziplock bags. I took a small bag out of the the freezer to use for lunch for the next couple of days and placed it the fridge over night. I noticed this morning that there was some water in the bag... do you think it is still safe to eat? I made sure to squeeze as much air out of the bag before closing it so not sure if that is normal to have extra liquid inside or not. Thanks!!
Patty October 3, 2016
Hi Rebecca! I have been making a lot of your Broths recently and freezing them. Recently, I purchased a pressure canner and am wondering if you have advice about pressure canning the broths instead of freezing?
Author Comment
Rebecca October 3, 2016
Hi Patty! I think pressure canning is another wonderful way to preserve your broth and will free up your freezer space. :)
Marion G. September 17, 2016
When I make stock, after straining, I reduce by at least half and chill in a dish to a depth of 1-2 inches. When it is set (meat jello!), I cut it like brownies, place on sheet pan and freeze. Keep the frozen squares in a zip lock bag and grab what you need. It can be added straight for flavor, or added to water to make broth. Takes up less space.
For soup I also find it handy to freeze, then remove from container and vacu-seal it in a bag. Remove block from bag and let thaw in pan. :)
Author Comment
Rebecca October 3, 2016
This is a great strategy -- especially since freezer real estate is so precious!
Author Comment
Rebecca September 14, 2016
Hi Nancy,
Thank you and excellent point! The freezer is an invaluable place to have a stock making bag, to place veggie scrapings and bones.
Nancy September 14, 2016
Very useful compendium.
New to me is info that (tempered) glass can go in the freezer.
Last, both for no-scraps-left-behind & better flavor, I wish you had reminded people to use the freezer to collect scraps like vegetable trimmings and chicken bones until they have enough to make a new broth.