Can You Freeze Lentil Soup?
Lentil soup can be enjoyed as a snack, a starter, or as a light meal. This protein-packed soup is not just healthy and delicious, it is also easy to make! But what if you have leftovers, can you freeze lentil soup? The quick answer is yes, you can freeze lentil soup. And we’re not just talking about leftovers, you can make lentil soup ahead of time, freeze it, and serve it later! Do note, however, that freezing the lentil soup may cause slight changes in flavor or consistency.
These freezing instructions will work for leftover and freshly cooked lentil soup! Before freezing the soup, make sure the soup has cooled off completely first. Once the soup has cooled off, chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once the soup is chilled, take it out of the fridge and prepare several small resealable plastic bags. Smaller containers are better than a large resealable plastic bag because defrosting and reheating the soup is much easier.
Image used under Creative Commons from Meal Makeover Moms
Ladle the soup into your preferred container carefully, filling the container only halfway through. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the plastic baggies. Write the storage date then store flat in the freezer.
Another way to freeze leftover lentil soup involves using several ice cube trays and a large plastic bag. After the soup has cooled completely, ladle the soup into the ice cube trays until all slots are filled. Stick in the freezer and leave the cubed soup to freeze for at least two hours. Then, take out the ice cube tray from the freezer and gently remove the cubed soup one by one. Place them in a large resealable plastic bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the plastic bag. Write the storage date then store flat in the freezer.
Hastily Preparing the Soup for Freezing
It is important to wait for the soup to cool down completely before freezing it. Putting warm or hot items in the freezer causes a significant temperature shift. When this happens, the temperature of the freezer lowers, increasing the risk of spoilage. And we are not just talking about the soup going bad but the other foods that you store in the freezer. Significant temperature shifts increase the risk for food safety too. Some culinary experts also believe that the frozen lentil soup’s shelf life becomes much shorter and it will be much easier to spoil once reheated if it hasn’t been left to cool down completely prior to freezing.
If say, you are pressed for time and you need to cool the soup down quickly, give the cooking pot an ice bath. Stir the soup every few minutes while you’re at it to speed up the cooling process even more.
Over-Filling or Under-Filling the Container
Never fill the container with lentil soup to the brim! Any type of liquid product expands as it freezes. If you fill a container with soup to the brim, the container will either burst or break. This goes especially if you used a flimsy container.
But if you think under-filling the container with soup is a better idea, it isn’t. Under-filling the container increases the risk of freezer burn. Ideally, you need to leave about an inch of space when filling the container with lentil soup. This way, the soup has enough room to expand but the air exposure is also minimal, which decreases the risk of freezer burns.
Image used under Creative Commons from Tasha
Overcooking the Lentil
Love chunky lentil soup? Who doesn’t? But if you know that you are freezing the soup before making it, do not cook the lentil all the way through. Doing so could cause the soup to turn excessively mushy once it’s been defrosted and reheated. If you are making the soup in advance and you have plans to freeze the entire batch, try undercooking the lentil.
On the other hand, if you are making a huge pot of lentil soup with plans of freezing the leftovers, divide the batch into two. Serve half of the batch now and freeze the other half for later.
When frozen, lentil soup will keep for six months in the freezer. However, do not wait this long before consuming the soup. The longer the soup is kept in the freezer, the higher the likelihood of flavor and texture changes. It is also worth noting that the consistency of thawed lentil soup will depend on the type of lentil you used. Green lentils, for instance, holds up well when frozen and thawed. You won’t get the same results with brown lentils because they hold more water.
To thaw the frozen lentil soup, take the container from the freezer and transfer it to the fridge. Leave the soup to thaw overnight. Once you’re ready to prep, pour the thawed soup into a saucepan and simmer over low heat for a few minutes or until piping hot. If the consistency of the soup is creamier before freezing, try adding a little broth or water to thin it out. Do not leave leftovers, never refreeze the defrosted soup because it will no longer keep well.
Who doesn’t love a bowl of lentil soup on a chilly night? It’s wholesome, heartwarming and oh so delicious! Can you freeze lentil soup? You can, with some prep of course! Just keep these storage tips in mind to extend the shelf life of this childhood favorite.