With the return of cold weather comes the return of delicious and hearty soups and stews. Warm, inviting, and easy to make, soups and stews are the perfect reprieves from the common woes of winter: harsh weather, sickness, and/or that I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed, it’s-way-too-cold-to-cook feeling. Soup can be frozen for up to three months, making it a versatile and simple go-to meal for now and later. But not all soups freeze the same; it’s important to double-check your ingredients before you start filling up mason jars.
Typically, bean and lentil, rice, broth, and meat-based soups all freeze (and most importantly, reheat) very well. Pureed vegetable soups can typically be frozen and reheated with few complications, but just make sure your puree doesn’t consist of any of the following:
Dairy, seafood, corn starch, and potato-based soups typically don’t freeze well. Dairy and potato-based soups’ ingredients are likely to separate while frozen, dramatically affecting flavor and consistency once reheated. Seafood is also prone to developing off-flavor, and soups thickened with corn starch or eggs can reheat thin and watery. Extra ingredients like pasta, tortilla chips, fresh herbs, and cheeses should also be omitted before freezing to avoid an overcooked, mushy, wilted, and/or sour mess.
We’ve compiled ten mouthwateringly delicious soups and stews that are easy to make and even easier to freeze. Keep reading for some bonus pro-soup-saver tips (if you can keep yourself from running to the grocery store to make one of these amazing recipes, that is).
Chicken and Vegetable Bone Broth Soup
Rich in nutrients but low on calories, this delicious bone broth-based soup will warm (and stick to) your belly in the chilly winter months. Not to mention bone broth is an excellent source of wrinkle-erasing collagen, gelatin, calcium, and magnesium.
Spiced Fava Bean Soup with Rice and Tomato
Packed with toasty flavors of cumin, coriander, and allspice, this spicy fava bean soup will only be hard to freeze because you’ll want to eat the whole batch all at once. This recipe calls for Greek yogurt and pistachios as toppings; make sure you omit these ingredients before freezing.
Simple Vegan Bean Soup
Don’t let the word ‘vegan’ deter you — the hearty combination of kidney beans, carrots, and peppers will leave you full and satisfied. Plus, your wallet will stay full, too. Between the produce, canned beans, and salt and pepper needed for this simple soup, you can make huge batches of delicious, legume-y goodness for around ten bucks.
We’ve all been there — we buy a huge tub of greens in the hopes of eating healthy for the week, just to find them wilted and souring two days (or was it six?) later. Don’t just toss them out; try this nutritious and simple lettuce (any mixed greens will work) soup. Pro tip: double the spice recommendations listed and add cayenne powder, smoked paprika, and cumin to taste.
Lentil and Brown Rice Soup
I’m not entirely convinced lentils aren’t magical. Somehow, a moderately-sized, two-dollar bag can last me months, and a single serving inexplicably transforms in the pot to feed (and fill up) several bellies at once. This legume-and-rice power combo is the perfect freezable soup to have on hand during cold winter months.
Chicken and Rice Soup
A freezer-friendly alternative to the classic chicken noodle, this chicken and rice soup is packed with mineral-rich veggies, tender chicken breast, and filling long-grain brown rice. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by substituting white beans for the chicken.
Freezer-Ready Beef Stew
Full of rich beef chuck and tomato flavor, this beef stew is sure to melt any frost lingering on the ends of your nose and toes this winter. The ingredients of this recipe can be pre-frozen together and added to a slow cooker for 5-6 hours for an effortlessly delicious and hearty meal. If you plan on freezing the stew right away, omit the corn starch until you’re reheating to be served.
Smoky Ham and Split Pea Soup
Creamy, savory, and smoky, this ham and split pea soup is bound to be a recurring favorite in your cold-weather meal rotation. Since the potatoes are mashed together with the peas in this recipe, you don’t have to worry about your texture changing too drastically in the freezer. For a vegetarian alternative, add a few drops of liquid smoke and omit the ham.
Carrot and Ginger Soup
If you haven’t yet experienced the rich, buttery flavor of cashew cream, this is a perfect way to do so. The boldness of the carrot and ginger cut through the earthy creaminess of the cashews, creating a delicious, dairy-free, vegan soup that is certain to please even the most carnivorous of your household.
30-Minute Italian Sausage and Pepper Soup
This flavorful soup takes a half hour to make and can last you up to three months — we can’t think of a better time-saving trick, can you? The best part about this recipe is the way the ingredients continue to marinate and intensify as it’s stored.
Extra tricks of the pre-made soup trade:
We recommend using glass mason jars for the freshest seal on your frozen soups and stews, but be careful not to overwhelm the glass with drastic heat changes.
- You can ladle soup and stew into jars while warm, but make sure the soup is cool or lukewarm before putting in the freezer.
- Ideally, frozen soup should be set out on the counter to thaw for 3-4 hours (or in the fridge for 6-8 hours).
- If you don’t have that kind of time, place the mason jar in a tall pan full of water. Place the pan over low heat for 30-40 minutes or until the soup is thawed enough to pour out of the jar.
- Never add a freezing cold jar to hot water! Always let the glass acclimate as much as time allows.
- When divvying up your soup, leave about two fingers worth of space in your glass jars (or at least 1″ in other containers). This allows the soup to expand while frozen without putting too much stress on the glass.
- Soups that include pasta can be frozen, the pasta just needs to be omitted (if you’re making to freeze) or strained out (if you’re freezing leftovers). Add fresh pasta when you reheat, and no one would be the wiser that the rest of the soup has been sitting in the freezer for weeks.
- If you plan on making your soup to be frozen immediately, consider undercooking your vegetables slightly. They’ll continue to cook in the re-heating process, and keeping them as fresh as possible will improve the flavor later. You can also divvy up your soup into a made-to-freeze batch and a ready-to-eat batch; keep the veggies in the made-to-freeze batch al dente; continue to cook your vegetables in the ready-to-eat batch to your preferred level of doneness.
- Freeze in small portions when possible. Take it from someone who has stabbed her fair share of frozen soup cylinders with a knife to no avail; soups thaw slow. The bigger the jar, the longer it will take to completely thaw.
- If you had plans to reheat your soup, began the thawing process, and decided to go a different route for dinner, don’t worry — you can thaw and re-freeze soups if necessary. Just make sure you reheat the soup slightly (the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends letting the soup reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit) before putting back in the freezer.
- No glass jars? No problem. Soup can be frozen in plastic containers, but be sure you’re choosing a freezer-friendly container to avoid any unwanted mishaps.
- Most importantly, label! We’d all like to think we have great memories in the moment, but two months from now, it’s going to be a lot trickier to remember when exactly that beef stew was first put in the freezer. Avoid eating too-far-gone soup by labeling the freeze dates and any date the soup was thawed and refrozen.