One of the best comfort foods, especially during sick and chilly days, soups are not just extremely easy to make but are also packed with healthy nutrients.
Most of them are simple one-pot recipes and, as a rule of thumb, the longer you let them simmer on the stove, the more flavorful they will be. For this reason, it makes sense to make soups in big batches.
While this is a great way to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family beforehand, it does pose somewhat of a challenge when it comes to storing, especially soups that are cream-based.
So, can you freeze cream soups? Yes, cream soups, like any other type of soup, can be frozen for a quick and healthy meal for later use. However, due to the cream base, there are higher chances of changes in the flavor and texture when it is defrosted.
Read on to find out what happens to cream soups when they are frozen and the best way to freeze them!
What Happens When You Freeze Cream Soups?
Dairy-based soups, such as cream soups, are an emulsion where the proteins bond with each other to prevent the water molecules from splitting from the fat molecules.
When you freeze cream soups, these bonds are disrupted and the components are separated.
This results in the loss of the smooth consistency that cream soups are known for and causes them to take on a grainy texture when defrosted. This is true for both homemade and store-bought varieties.
However, it is worth noting that the likelihood of the cream soup splitting is directly proportional to the fat content in it.
Therefore, it is recommended to avoid using low-fat cream and dairy products in your soups if you intend to freeze them.
How to Freeze Cream Soups
If you’ve made a large batch of cream soup and wish to store it for later use, it is best to freeze it at a steady 0°F where it will be good for up to 6 months.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to freeze cream soups:
- Before freezing cream soups, you need to make sure that they have been cooled down completely. This is a vital step for whether you’re making the soup from scratch or simply reheating the store-bought ones.
- Once it has been cooled down, you can start pouring the soup into airtight plastic containers or freezer-safe plastic bags.
- If you have limited freezer space and your soup has a thinner consistency, you may opt for freezer-safe bags. It may be a bit tricky to pour out the soup into the bags, but you must make sure to not puncture them and leave adequate room for expansion.
- On the other hand, if your soup has a thicker consistency and has large ingredients, it is best to use an airtight container.
- Whatever you choose, just make sure the soup has been cooled down properly and has enough room to expand once frozen.
- Seal the bags or containers properly, label them with the date, and pop them in the freezer.
- Make sure to store the cream soup in smaller batches so that you can defrost only as much as you need.
Helpful Tips for Freezing Cream Soups
When freezing cream soups, there are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of the frozen meal and to prevent any drastic taste and textural changes.
For starters, you need to understand that when a frozen cream soup separates, it simply means that the fats within the dairy have broken away from the mixture and formed a layer on top of the soup.
We know that this may look visually unappealing but it certainly doesn’t mean that it has gone bad and needs to be discarded.
There are a few things you can do to avoid this visual mess and make the most of your frozen cream soups:
- Do not add cream (or other dairy products) if you wish to freeze your soup. Freeze it without the cream and add it later on when you defrost and reheat it. This will not only prevent the soup from splitting but also give it a fresh cream flavor.
- If omitting cream before freezing the soup is not an option for you, you can reconstitute it using arrowroot or agar-agar. Just make a thin slurry using equal parts of either arrowroot powder or agar-agar powder, and add it into the soup as you reheat it. Make sure to not add too much of the mixture or you will end up with an incredibly thick, gelatinous soup.
- If your cream soup separates during the reheating process, pour it in a blender and blend it for 30 seconds. Alternatively, you may also whisk it by hand to blend it till you achieve your desired consistency.
Some additional things to remember when freezing cream soups include:
- Not adding fresh herbs before freezing. It is better to add them later on when reheating the soup.
- Removing any pasta in the soup before freezing it, or holding it back entirely, and adding freshly boiled pasta to the soup when reheating it.
- Being careful with certain ingredients in your cream soup, such as potatoes, that have a tendency to soak up the moisture and fall apart during the freezing process.
- Not fully cooking any green vegetables that you’d like to add to your cream soup, such as peas or beans, to avoid making them mushy during reheating, or adding them while reheating.
Now that you know all about freezing cream soups and the best way to go about it, here are a few additional questions you might have, along with the best ways to defrost and reheat them.
Can you freeze soups with milk?
Since milk and cream are both dairy products, they go through the same processes and are not the best ingredients to hold their shape and texture when frozen.
Soups with milk or cream both separate when frozen and take on a grainy texture when defrosted and reheated. Therefore, you need to follow the same tips and tricks for freezing soups with milk as you would for freezing cream soups.
How do you defrost and reheat frozen cream soups?
Defrosting and reheating frozen cream soups needs to be done slowly and carefully to minimize the separation process and to avoid any serious structural and textural changes.
Transfer the container or freezer bag with the cream soup into the refrigerator to allow it to thaw for a few hours, preferably overnight.
Once it has been defrosted, you may reheat it using one of two ways: over the stove or in the microwave. If it has separated, we recommend reheating it on the stove so that you can successfully combine the ingredients back together.
For the stovetop method, take out the defrosted soup in a saucepan and simmer it on low heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Do not put it on high flame.
If you feel that the soup is on the runnier side, you may make it thicker by adding cornstarch diluted in water, or arrowroot or agar-agar powder to get your desired consistency.
If you froze the soup without adding cream, now would be the right time to add it and simmer for a few minutes till it gets well incorporated into the soup.
If you choose to reheat the cream soup in a microwave, pour the defrosted soup into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it on high for 20 seconds. Give the soup a nice stir and repeat the process if necessary.
How do you add cream to hot soup?
Adding cream to soups gives them a rich flavor and heavy texture, whether it’s the popular cream of mushroom soup or a nice bowl of chowder.
However, when adding dairy products such as milk or cream into a soup, you have to be very careful or you run the risk of the cream curdling in the soup.
The first rule when adding cream to soup is to never do so when it is boiling since it will cause it to curdle.
Turn the heat to low and add the cream by stirring it slowly and mixing it with the soup. Measure out the cream and add as much as you require to get your desired taste and consistency.
You may taste it to ensure that you’re satisfied with the flavor and texture, and you may add more if need be. Turn off the stove and dish out in serving bowls to be served hot.
How long does cream soup last in the fridge?
Soups with cream and other dairy products can last in the fridge for up to 3 days. Depending on the ingredients in the soup, such as seafood, the time may be reduced to 1-2 days only.
Some soups (not cream-based ones) may last even longer to up to 1 week, depending on what’s in them and how well they are stored.