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How To Reheat Soup: FAQ & More

Let’s talk about soup for a minute. If you end up cooking for an army like I tend to do, these tips for how to reheat soup may be just what you need!

Soup is one of the most commonly cooked and consumed dishes in the entire world and according to stats published in Businesswire, 95% of Americans like or love this food.

It’s also a very diverse dish in terms of cooking methods and ingredients and you can easily cook it in a large batch for later use. 

But how do you reheat soup?

Soup is comforting, fulfilling, hearty, and warm food that makes for a great make-ahead meal and you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

That’s why it’s important to know how to reheat your stored soup, how long it can be stored safely, and some creative ways to use leftovers.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about reheating soup, along with its brief history and the correct ways to store it safely for the future.

Let’s jump into it.

Table Of Contents

How Long Can You Store Soup?

According to the Federal Government Food Safety guidelines, you can safely freeze soup, with added meat and vegetables, for two to three months.

The guidelines also suggest that you shouldn’t store your soup in the refrigerator for more than three to four days.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the longer your soup will stay in the freezer, the more the taste and flavor deteriorates after it’s reheated.

Additionally, foods, including soups, become susceptible to small ice crystals, which not only affect the taste but also compromise the texture.

What Type of Container Should You Use to Freeze Soup?

Use a freezer-friendly and air-tight container to freeze soup or it won’t be able to withstand an extremely low temperature of the freezer without cracking.

You can use freezer-friendly bags, plastic containers like souper cubes, or even glass jars for this purpose.

According to the United States Plastic Corporation, polyvinyl chloride and polystyrene are the types of plastics that become brittle below freezing temperatures.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you don’t use containers made of these plastic types to store your soup or any other food in the freezer.

Not only can they break in the freezer but they’ll also allow food particles to spread across the freezer.

In addition, your soup will also fall victim to freezer burn which will change the taste and texture of your food significantly.

The safest way to freeze soup in the freezer is to use BPA-free containers as BPA can seep into foods and can cause some health problems, according to research.

How Long Can Soup Sit at Room Temperature?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you should not leave your soup sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.

If the outside temperature is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then leaving soup at room temperature just for one hour can make it unsafe for consumption.

It happens because of the multiplication of bacteria that can take place within 20 minutes between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

So, if you have leftover soup, consider storing it in the refrigerator or freezer quickly in shallow containers by dividing it into meal-size portions.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t store your soup in the refrigerator when it’s hot.

Food experts suggest that when you store boiling hot food in the refrigerator, it increases the temperature inside and allows bacteria to spoil your already stored food.

Therefore, you should always cool down your soup before refrigerating it but if you have a big batch of soup, you’ll find it difficult to cool it down quickly.

In such a case, you can transfer your soup in an airtight plastic bag and place it inside cold water to cool it down quickly and store it in the refrigerator or freezer safely.

How to Safely Prepare Soup for Reheating

Before you start the reheating process, you’ll need to thaw the soup if it’s frozen.

The following are the three different methods that you can use for defrosting frozen food, like soup, as per USDA guidelines.

Thaw in the Refrigerator

The best method to defrost frozen soup is to plan ahead of time and thaw it in the refrigerator.

The temperature of your refrigerator should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below so that the soup can remain safe during the entire thawing process.

You’ll need to place the frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight so that it gets defrosted thoroughly.

Cold Water Thawing

If you can’t wait overnight and need to defrost your frozen soup quickly, you can opt for cold water thawing.

Add the frozen soup to a leak-proof plastic bag or container and place it inside cold water.

Make sure that the container is leak-proof or it will allow bacteria to reach your frozen soup from the surrounding air to deteriorate its quality.

This process will take about two to three hours depending on the quantity of frozen food and you’ll need to change the water after every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw.

Defrost in the Microwave

If you’re in a hurry and want to defrost your frozen soup as quickly as possible, then you’ll need to use your microwave.

While it’s not the best method for defrosting, it gets the job done but you’ll need to make sure that you reheat your soup immediately after thawing it in the microwave.

Otherwise, it’ll activate the multiplication process of bacteria as the food will already have reached the temperature that microorganisms need to grow.

How to Reheat Soup

There are several methods that you can use to reheat soup that you have just thawed.

We have compiled two most effective methods that will help you reheat your soup easily to enjoy the best taste and maximum freshness.

Reheat Soup on the Stove

Using a stove is the best method to reheat soup because it allows you to control how hot it gets.

In addition, you can also easily add more broth, noodles, and seasoning to liven things up while the soup is still reheating.

You can complete it using the steps listed below.

  1. Add your refrigerated or thawed soup to a cold pot and place it on the stovetop.
  2. Set your stove to low to medium temperature and start heating the soup.
  3. Continue heating until the soup starts to boil while stirring continuously to prevent soup components from sticking to the bottom.
  4. Keep the soup boiling for 30 seconds to one minute to kill all the harmful bacteria inside and then serve or enjoy it immediately.

If you’re using a pan with a thin base, consider sticking to low temperatures and increasing your reheating duration by one to two minutes to keep the soup from becoming too thick.

Make sure that you use a small pot if you’re reheating a meal-size portion as it’ll help you keep the soup from spreading out and becoming thick.

Reheat Soup in the Microwave

You can use your microwave to safely reheat your soup and this method comes in handy when you’re in a hurry as it can be completed within a couple of minutes.

Use the following steps to reheat your soup in the microwave.

  1. Place your thawed soup in the microwave-safe container and cover it loosely using a lid. Leave a small opening at one side to allow steam to escape and prevent splatter.
  2. Insert the container into the microwave and set the machine to medium power.
  3. Run the microwave for 30 seconds and then open its door.
  4. Stir the soup well using a spoon or spatula to distribute the heat evenly and run it again for 30 seconds.
  5. Check if the soup is reheated properly. If not, you’ll need to place it in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds more.
  6. Remove the soup from the microwave and serve or enjoy it immediately.

Reheating the soup in the microwave in multiple turns is important as it ensures that the soup warms evenly.

Reheat only one meal-size portion in the microwave at a time because reheating a big batch will make it difficult for you to control the temperature levels.

What Should Be the Temperature of Soup While Reheating?

According to the USDA guideline, the temperature of soup should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit while reheating to kill all the harmful bacteria inside.

You can use a food thermometer to check the soup’s temperature.

Place the thermometer inside the bowl containing soup and keep it there for 30 seconds to one minute.

You’ll also need to make sure that the thermometer doesn’t touch the sides or the bottom of the bowl for correct readings.

Can You Reheat Soup in a Crockpot?

While you can reheat the soup in a crockpot, you should avoid using this method as per the USDA recommendations.

Reheating soup in a crock pot will take a long time to reach the temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

It means that the food will remain in the danger temperature zone, which will allow harmful bacteria to multiply and make the soup unsafe for consumption.

The USDA also recommends that you should use a microwave or stove to reheat food.

Once it’s reheated, you can transfer it to a crockpot to keep it hot until its serving time.

Can You Reheat Soup Twice?

Ideally, you should not reheat your soup more than once to keep it safe for consumption.

Changing the temperature of soup repeatedly will provide bacteria with more opportunities to grow, which can lead to food poisoning.

According to the USDA guideline, the quality of food decreases each time you reheat it.

Therefore, you should keep your soup in the freezer or refrigerator and reheat only the portion that you’ll consume without needing to store it again.

Not only will it allow you to eat soup with maximum freshness and great taste but it’ll also keep you from needing to reheat it multiple times.

Can You Freeze Soup with Cream?

Yes, you can freeze cream soup safely for later use just like any other type of soup but there will be a higher chance that it will change its texture and flavor when reheated because of the addition of cream.

Soups that have dairy products in them are emulsified during the cooking process and the protein they contain prevents the splitting of fat and water molecules.

However, when you freeze such soups the bonds between water and fat molecules are disrupted, which separates the components.

This process creates a layer of fat on top of the soup and it turns into ice crystals as the soup freezes.

As a result, your soup loses the smooth consistency, and it ends up with a grainy texture when reheated or defrosted.

While you can give your soup a good stir before placing it in the freezer to minimize the risk of losing smooth consistency and texture, you’ll still experience a changed flavor after reheating it.

However, it’s important to note that the more cream content the soup has the more the risk of splitting or curdling.

If you want to enjoy the best flavor then I recommend you avoid freezing your soup with cream and if you intend to freeze it then you shouldn’t use dairy products.

Can You Reheat Creamy Soup?

Yes, you can reheat soup with cream if you want but it won’t be as creamy and delicious as it was when you first prepared it.

The cream (dairy product) can separate from the broth due to heat and make the entire thing watery and foamy, especially when reheated in the microwave.

Using a stove is the safest and most effective way to reheat the creamy soup and you can stir it continuously while it’s reheating.

It’ll prevent soup ingredients from sticking to the bottom and allow you to decrease the temperature on the go if the cream starts to curdle.

Once the reheating process is completed, you can renew the soup by adding a tablespoon of cream.

How to Use Leftover Soup

Storing your leftover soup in the fridge or freezer isn’t the only way to deal with leftover soup because you can use it as an ingredient in a range of different recipes.

The following are some great ideas that call for leftover soup that you can prepare easily at home:

  • Make your own brine for proteins that use your leftover soup and combining it with spices to add juiciness to your meaty dishes.
  • Sautee your vegetables with leftover broth soup.
  • Create a light version of the Alfredo sauce by replacing the heavy cream base with a nondairy milk and cooking it with leftover soup, butter, spices, and parmesan cheese.
  • Cut bread slices into small cubes and cover them with soup and then cook them to make delicious stuffing.
  • Take out some of the broth from the soup and add pasta, chicken breast, and veggies to it to make a hearty stir fry dish.

Here’s our recipe for a light, creamy yet brothy Seafood Chowder!

Plus, see our recipe for Soup Pancakes below!

Brief History of Soup

The word soup is derived from a Latin word, known as “Suppa”. 

This word refers to bread that has been soaked in broth. It’s also found as “Sup” in Proto-Germanic language, which refers to the act of making liquid.

It’s believed that the very first example of soup dates back to 20,000 BC.

It was discovered with the help of ancient pottery found in Xianrendong Cave, Jiangxi Province, China, as the pottery showed scorch marks, showing that someone was making some type of hot soup.

The first region in recorded history to become famous because of soup is Southern Spain.

It became popular when the Roman Empire brought the Gazpacho recipe here and it led them to come up with a popular wedding soup, called Minutal Apicianum.

Later in the 18th Century, street vendors first started selling restorative soup in France and it was known as restorative at that time.

Then a person named Boulanger opened the first restaurant in 1765 in Paris where he started selling different types of soups.

This restaurant led to the trend of soup restaurants in France and they defined the modern soup types that we know today.

By the end of the 18th century, people could tell a lot about local flavors just by eating soups as each area had its own unique taste due to the local produce they used.

With the start of the 20th century, an evolution came in the worldwide soup industry.

In 1958, a Japanese company, called Nissin Foods, started making dried ramen noodle soups using a nest of dried noodles and a dried soup stock, which took the work by storm.

It allowed people to prepare soups within a matter of a couple of minutes as they only needed to add boiling water to the dried ingredients.

Now the soup industry is thriving in terms of taste and ingredients, and we have a range of different types of soups including stock, broth, and bouillon.

Want more good soup? We have lots to choose from:

The bottom line

The best way to reheat soup is to use your stove, set it to the low to the medium temperature setting, and heat the soup until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

If you’re in a hurry, you can also use the microwave for the same purpose but you’ll need to reheat the soup in multiple turns.

It’ll distribute the heat evenly and prevent the soup from sticking to the container’s bottom.

You can use a crockpot to keep your soup warm but avoid using it for reheating purposes to prevent the multiplication process of bacteria.

You must never leave your soup to sit at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and store it in the fridge or freezer to keep it safe.

Use a fully airtight fridge/freezer-safe container to store your soup for later use.

You can also use any of the methods listed above to use your leftover soup in different recipes if you don’t want to store it.

Soup Pancakes

Soup Pancakes

Yield: 5 small pancakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Making savory soup pancakes is an easy way to use up leftover soup!

Ingredients

  • ½ c Leftover soup
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t Baking powder
  • ½ c All-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Oil for coating a nonstick pan

Instructions

  1. Add flour, salt, and baking powder to a mixing bowl and combine.
  2. Make a small well in the middle of the bowl and break the egg into it.
  3. Whisk the egg into the mixture gently until it thickens.
  4. Start adding leftover soup gradually to the mixture and continue stirring to make a thick batter.
  5. Don’t overmix.
  6. Grab a medium size frying pan and lightly coat with cooking oil or butter.
  7. Place the frying pan on the stove and set the heat to medium.
  8. Once the frying pan is heated, pour the batter into a small circle.
  9. Let the batter heat until small bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake. The bottom side will turn golden brown by this time.
  10. Now turn the pancake using a spatula and cook it until the other side turns golden brown. Turn only once for tender pancakes.
  11. Remove the pancake from the frying pan and serve with proteins, salads, and other savory dishes.
  12. Repeat until the batter is used up.

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