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How to properly freeze or refrigerate soup — and how long it keeps

If any food seems inherently calming and even consoling to me, it is soup. Quite often it restores our spirits and invigorates us.

Soup also stores very well, so it’s easy to make a big batch and then save it for easy reheating later on. But you have to do it right.

Safely storing soup can sometimes be a problem because of limited refrigerator space. One fast way to cool soup when the temperature outside is 40 degrees or below is to set the covered pot outside or in your unheated garage. Make sure to have the lid tilted a bit so the heat can escape quickly.

If you have a large quantity of soup to cool, put it in shallower pans so it can cool quickly. Never put a large pot of hot soup in the refrigerator with the lid on tight and expect it to cool off. Much of the heat can’t escape and, depending on the ingredients, the soup may sour and not be safe to eat.

Once the soup has cooled, package it in smaller containers and refrigerate or freeze. Try to store soup in a completely filled container and make sure it is tightly covered, as air is the enemy.

For the same reason, leave any fat on top of the soup to seal the soup beneath. Just remember to remove the fat layer before reheating.

Most soups keep for a few days if they are tightly covered in the refrigerator, and even improve their flavor. That’s why that last bowl of vegetable beef soup tastes the best.

The exception is soup made with fish or seafood. Fruit soups and soups made with meat, poultry, milk, cream or eggs keep for up to three days. Soups made purely of vegetables and legumes keep for four days.

Most soups also freeze well. Smaller pieces of vegetables freeze better than large pieces, and pureed soups hold their quality for up to three months. Other soups are best served within one month of freezing.

If your household is busy, you might try freezing main dish soups in individual servings for quick grab-and-go meals.

For more recipes and kitchen tips from Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, sign up for the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.

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