From EatingWell Magazine
Soup is one of the best foods to make in bulk; it’s easy to scale, and it freezes beautifully—for the most part. If you know before you make soup that you’re going to freeze at least a portion of it, you may want to consider doing things a little bit differently in the kitchen. These tips will help you package your next batch of soup into easy-to-use portions, remind you when and how to add dairy and help you figure out which ingredients are better to add to your soup after it’s been thawed. And remember: you can always eat part of the batch hot, and save the rest for freezing—simply portion out what you plan to freeze before following the recipe to its end.
Let soup cool before putting in the fridge or freezer.
Putting hot soup directly in the freezer can thaw your already-frozen food. To chill things quickly, place the hot soup pot in an ice-water bath in your sink and stir often. Dividing soup into smaller portions before cooling it will also help speed up the process.
Portion it out for easier freezing.
Turn your big batch of soup into convenient grab-and-go meals by freezing it in individual servings. Quart-size freezer bags will accommodate a single serving while giving the soup room to expand as it freezes—plus when frozen flat they stack easily. You can also use 4-cup freezer-safe plastic or glass containers to help you spoon out the perfect amount for a meal or two.
Separate grains and pasta.
Pasta and grains that are in a soup will soak up liquid and soften a bit as they freeze. If you like them al dente, cook and freeze pasta and grains separately from the soup. You might consider flash-freezing grains, rather than putting them in a container to freeze; to flash-freeze, spread cooked grains out on a sheet pan and freeze. You can then crumble the sheet of frozen grains into a bag or other container. Add more broth as needed when you defrost your soup and add the grains.
Hold the dairy.
Dairy tends to separate and become grainy when frozen and reheated. Leave it out of the soup but write on the bag how much to add after reheating so you don’t have to root around for the recipe later on.
Keep vegetables al dente.
Cook your vegetables until they’re just tender and still a bit crisp. They’ll be perfect for your bowl for dinner but they’ll also stay firm when frozen and reheated.
Label, label, label.
Food can disappear into a freezer like it’s in the Bermuda Triangle. To minimize the mystery, label soups with the recipe name, the date it was made and reheating and garnishing instructions so you remember where you left off.
Save the garnish for later.
Leave garnishes, such as chopped fresh herbs or nuts, off before freezing. When frozen, herbs lose their savory oomph and nuts lose their crunch.
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