National Soup Month and Food Safe Cooling

January is National Soup Month and a great time to make a large kettle of soup to enjoy for quick meals. But, preparing a large batch of hot soup can present a food safety challenge: safe cooling!

Cooling Foods Properly

One of the leading causes of foodborne illness is the failure to properly cool foods. The food danger zone is that place between 41° and 140° F where pathogens grow most quickly. It can take a long time to get through the danger zone when cooling a large batch of chili, soup, or stew.

Food must cool from 140° to 70° F in 2 hours and from 70° to 40° F in no more than 4 hours.

Rapidly Cooling Soup Safely

Be proactive about cooling soup. When making a large batch of soup, plan ahead for the cooling method you plan to use. Begin your plan by having an accurate food thermometer to keep tabs on the temperature during the cooling process.

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Follow the following methods and procedures to safely cool your soup:

  1. Use ice water bath – An ice water bath is effective for cooling soups. This method helps decrease the food temperature quickly and safely.
  • Fill a large container or clean sink with ice and a small amount of water.
  • Place the kettle of soup into the ice bath.
  • Stir the soup to release heat and aid cooling.

2. Use shallow pans – The smaller the portions, the quicker the cool down.

  • Don’t leave a large pot of soup on the counter to cool before placing in the fridge.
  • Separate into smaller containers, no deeper than 3 inches.
  • Stir occasionally to aid cooling.

3. Use ice in the recipe – You can reduce cooling time by adapting your soup recipe.

  • Prepare a thicker soup, reducing the original amount of water or liquid called for in the recipe. Add ice to the soup at the final preparation step.

4. Use cooling paddles – These are more commonly used in a commercial kitchen.

  • The cooling paddle is filled with water and placed in the freezer.
  • Stir the soup, in the kettle with the frozen chill paddle.

After Soup is Cooled

Once the soup is cooled to 70° F, by using a rapidly cooling option, you can place the container of soup in the refrigerator. Place on the top shelf. Leave uncovered until cooled to 40° F.

Consume or freeze leftovers within 4 days of preparation.