Frozen soup may initially look like it’s unsalvageable, but there are a few quick tricks that you can apply to quickly reheat it and even freshen its consistency!
How to thaw frozen soup? Frozen soup can be thawed by adding just a bit of water and reheating it in either the microwave, stove or oven. The most efficient way to thaw and reheat frozen soup is to first let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat it on a pan over the stove at medium flame.
Read below to learn more about the right way to thaw frozen soup and some tips on how to easily reheat it without changing its original texture and quality.
Challenges of Freezing Soup
Thawing frozen soup can be tricky, after all, it is likely to turn into jelly once it sets.
The reason for this is the bone broth and the starch-based thickeners added to the soup.
See, bones contain a type of protein called collagen. When you render bones in water, the collagen breaks away from the bones and is dissolved in water.
The more the bones are boiled, the more collagen is extracted.
At room temperature, the soup will remain liquid but when you subject it to cold or freezing temperatures, the protein strands will clump up and cause the soup to turn into jelly.
Also, since most soups are thickened using corn starch or other types of starch-based thickeners, the starch molecules swell up as they cool and absorb water which further leads to a blob-like consistency.
Fun fact: Everyone’s favorite Jello is also primarily made using gelatin that is extracted from animal bones.
Unfortunately, there is no way to stop soup from taking on a jelly-like consistency but there are several heating methods that you can use to quickly regain its runniness.
How to Properly Freeze Soup
Before we explore the many ways of thawing and heating soup, let’s first take a look at how to properly freeze it to ensure maximum quality and shelf life.
Soup usually contains a mixture of starch and bone broth. Bone broth is high in protein and fats which means that you need to follow a few best practices so that it doesn’t spoil.
First, we recommend storing the soup in a freezer-safe airtight container (I like these from Amazon).
You can learn more about freezing soup in Tupperware with my full guide.
You can also use a freezer-safe bag but please make sure that the bag is leakproof.
Always store soup while it is at room temperature, putting hot soup in the freezer can cause a temperature discrepancy in the freezer compartment, and if you aren’t using a high-quality container, then the plastics might even leak unwanted chemicals into the soup!
Pour the leftover soup into a clean container and then put the container at the back of the freezer at 0F.
Placing the container at the back will minimize its exposure to warm air when the door is opened and it will keep the soup from repeatedly thawing and refreezing, which can encourage bacterial growth.
Frozen soup will last 2-3 months as long as it is properly stored in the freezer. But the longer it is stored, the more it will start to lose its original flavor, especially when it comes to vegetables in the soup.
How to Thaw Frozen Soup
Thawing soup is easy and can be done using the following methods:
- Microwave Defrosting
- Refrigeration Defrosting
- Pan (stove heating) Method
- Oven Method
Using a microwave is the quickest way to defrost frozen soup. Microwaves are excellent in this regard because every type of soup contains moisture in abundance.
Microwaves work by emitting micro-waves that get absorbed by fat and water molecules in the food. Since the waves are charged, they excite the fat and water molecules as they hit them, causing them to vibrate.
This vibration leads to friction which heats food from the inside out.
So, in the case of frozen soups, the microwaves will penetrate deep within the soup as well as its outer surface to defrost it.
But here’s the catch: even though the soup will be defrosted, it will likely remain gelatinous/slushy and not regain its soup-like consistency. To finish heating the soup you will have to use more intense heating methods (more on this below).
Here are the steps for defrosting frozen soup in the microwave:
Step 1) Set the microwave to the defrost setting.
Step 2) Put the soup in a microwave-safe bowl and defrost it for about 3-5 minutes or until the soup become gelatinous and you can separate the gel-like pieces around using a spoon.
If the soup remains solid, then you might have to add 1-2 minutes to the total defrosting time.
Defrosting frozen food in the fridge may sound counterintuitive but it is the safest and most efficient way of easily thawing frozen food without worrying about bacteria.
Freezers freeze food at temperatures around 0F but the fridge compartment only cools food to about 40F. This is where a bit of science comes in.
The second law of thermodynamics states that hot or cool objects will equalize and have a uniform temperature in an enclosed system.
So, when you add rock-solid frozen soup to a relatively “warm” 40F environment, the soup will efficiently thaw without allowing bacteria to grow.
This means that the soup will equally and effectively thaw within 6-8 hours. You can also leave it overnight for the best results!
Thawing food in the fridge will prove to be the easiest method for people who aren’t in a hurry to eat leftover soup.
Pan Heating Method
Once the soup is defrosted, it is time to heat it to regain its original texture and consistency.
If you look closely, you will notice that the soup doesn’t contain water, at least, you won’t be able to see it pool up in the bowl even when defrosted.
The reason for this is that the starch and collagen lumps have absorbed and “trapped” the water inside. To release it, you will need to apply constant heat to loosen the protein structures and liquify the soup.
This is where pan heating comes in. Heating soup in a non-stick pan or pot is by far the most effective way of regaining the original texture of the soup.
Step 1) Place the defrosted soup in a non-stick pan and add a splash of water. You don’t have to make the soup runny, just 1-2 tbsp of water should be enough to create steam.
Step 2) Turn on the stove and set the heat to medium. Now cover the top of the pan or pot and let the soup slowly heat up. We recommend that you leave it undisturbed for at least 3-4 minutes.
Step 3) Remove the lid and check the edges of the pan. If the soup starts bubbling from the edges, then you can begin mixing it by scooping the soup from the sides and folding it in the middle. Repeatedly mix the soup for 1-2 minutes then put the lid on and continue heating.
Step 4) By now, the soup will start to liquefy. If it doesn’t, then you can add a splash of water again to help the heating process. Stir the soup and heat it until the soup starts to slowly bubble in the middle.
Step 5) Once the soup is adequately heated, turn off the heat and serve immediately!
Oven Heating Method
The oven heating method works in the same way as the pan method, except with this method, you don’t have to constantly stand around the pan and keep it from burning.
The oven method is slow, but it is suitable for people who aren’t in a rush to get hot soup and don’t want to wait around the stove.
Ovens heat food indirectly or via the processes of convection. To efficiently heat gelatinous soup, you will have to add a bit of water and let the soup slowly heat until it liquefies.
Here is how you can reheat thawed soup:
Step 1) Preheat the oven to 350-375F.
Step 2) Place the thawed soup in an oven-safe bowl.
Step 3) Place the bowl in the middle rack and make sure that you have turned on both heating elements in the oven so that it heats equally on all sides.
Step 4) Cover the soup with a lid and let it heat for about 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the bowl after 10 minutes and stir it. You can also add more water if needed. Finish heating the soup for another 8-10 minutes.
Step 5) Remove the bowl and give it a final stir. If you still notice gel-like blobs in the soup then you can continue heating for another 5-8 minutes. Once done, give the heated soup a good mix and serve!
Now that you know how to thaw and reheat frozen soup, here are some related questions:
Can I refreeze thawed soup?
Refreezing thawed soup is not recommended since it will likely compromise its quality and may even encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Once the soup is thawed, try to consume it on the same day and avoid refreezing it.
Can I mix frozen soup with fresh broth?
Adding frozen soup to fresh broth may only be suitable if there are no added ingredients, like vegetables, in the frozen soup. If you want to reuse frozen broth by mixing it with new broth then you can directly add the frozen soup and let it cook with the rest of the broth.