While we wish that we could channel our inner Ina Garten and cook multi-course meals seven days a week, cooking anything more elaborate than scrambled eggs or Trader Joe's frozen cauliflower gnocchi after a busy day of work can feel like an impossible task. That's where freezer meals come in. When you’re craving a hearty home-cooked meal and would rather *not* spend hours making it, these freezable and reheatable hearty soup recipes will be the answer to your prayers. They're all Instant Pot-friendly, too, which means they basically cook themselves.
A few quick tips for making the best freeze-and-reheat soups
Before we jump into the protein-rich soup recipes, we thought we'd share some smart pointers for making sure your freezer-friendly soups and stews taste like they were just cooked no matter how long they've been chilling in your icebox.
Choose freezable soup recipes
In truth, we’ve never met a soup we didn’t like. Chicken noodle, creamy tomato, broccoli cheddar… the list goes on and on. However, if you also fancy yourself a soup connoisseur, you may already know that not all types of soup are freezer-friendly.
Starchy soups, like ones made with potatoes, rice, or pasta, don’t maintain their texture when frozen. This is because their starchy ingredients tend to absorb the liquid in the soup, which often translates to soggy, mushy, or icy chunks of sweet potato or pasta noodles floating around in your bowl upon defrosting. A simple workaround? Freeze the broth and the solids separately (this is why you may be accustomed to receiving your ramen delivery order with the noodles and broth separated into different containers).
Creamy soups also tend to separate or “break” when frozen—so dairy-free, broth-based recipes might be the way to go.
Use an ice bath to chill your soup before freezing
Before freezing soup, you’ll want to ensure it has had a chance to cool before you freeze it. Why? Well, most freezers don’t have the ability to freeze soups fast enough to be food-safe, otherwise known as the temperature danger zone. According to the USDA, this zone is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the window that creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to grow. (Placing hot foods directly in the freezer can cause the the frozen foods inside—and the entire freezer body—to warm up, too. Very unpleasant.)
Thus, it’s important to cool food quickly before you store it to prevent any unwanted bacteria growth. One way to do this is by placing your container of warm soup in an ice bath, which will speed up the cooling process. To do so, fill a large container or sink with iced water, then add the soup into a smaller container and submerge it into the cold water to help expedite the cooling. Make sure to stir the soup frequently to help release the heat and distribute the cool temperature throughout.
Store soup in freezer-safe containers and label them
Unless you want to clean out your entire freezer due to spilled soup, it’s important to store them in freezer-safe containers that won’t crack due to drastic temperature changes. (You can also use reusable freezer bags, which lay flat, to help minimize the amount of space your soup occupies.) Also, for ease and efficiency, make sure to label the containers with the item name and date it was cooked to ensure maximum freshness and easy accessibility. Though the USDA says that frozen foods can remain safe indefinitely, they note that for maximum quality, soups and stews can be stored for about two to three months in the freezer.
Thaw soups ahead of time
Make sure you thaw soups ahead of time to make reheating a breeze. For best results, thaw the container in the refrigerator a day or two before. However, you can also place the soup container in a warm water bath (like you would for an ice bath) until it's thawed enough to remove from the container to fully reheat on the stove or microwave. If rewarming the soup in a microwave, make sure to work in 30-second to one-minute intervals and stir in between.
5 protein-rich soup recipes you can freeze and reheat
1. Spicy Buffalo White Chicken Chili
Bring on the heat with this spicy buffalo white chicken chili recipe by Half Baked Harvest—it'll warm you up from the inside out. It’s packed with hearty, protein-dense ingredients like chicken and white beans and delicious flavor thanks to spices like smoked paprika and dried dill. For the best freezing results, hold off on adding delicate herbs (like cilantro) or dairy (like the shredded cheddar cheese) until serving. This will help keep the herbs from turning brown and wilted and the cheese from getting mushy or clumpy.
Get the recipe: Spicy Buffalo White Chicken Chili
2. Curried Lentil Soup
This Instant Pot-friendly, plant-based curried lentil soup by Minimalist Baker is the perfect comforting soup with a little bit of spice and a whole lot of flavor. It’s made with loads of nutrient-packed ingredients like carrots, kale, and lentils. And if you needed a reminder of why lentils are *so* good for you, here are 10 of them.
Get the recipe: Instant Pot Curried Lentil Soup (Indian-Inspired)
3. Creamy Chipotle Tomato Soup
This vegan creamy chipotle tomato soup by Minimalist Baker is a refreshing and tongue-tingling take on a classic tomato soup thanks to a little bit of heat from spicy ingredients like chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Heads up: This soup is the perfect sidekick (or side dish) for melty grilled cheese. It’s also packed with lycopene, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant that’s known to boost heart health and boost longevity.
Get the recipe: Creamy Chipotle Tomato Soup (1 Pot!)
4. Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Squash season is upon us, which means this pumpkin black bean soup by Minimalist Baker is a must-have menu item. Packed with loads of protein and fiber thanks to the black beans, it’s the perfect nourishing soup to enjoy for lunch, dinner, or both (!). After all, beans are one of the superstar foods many of the longest-living people in the world consume on a daily basis.
Get the recipe: 1-Pot Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
5. Golden Turmeric Chickpea Chicken Soup
Want a soup loaded with anti-inflammatory benefits and tons of flavor? Look no further. This golden turmeric chickpea chicken soup by Ambitious Kitchen is the perfect protein-packed meal (with about 33 grams per serving) that can help lower inflammation thanks to ingredients like ginger and turmeric. It'll be ultra-soothing for when flu season rolls around, too.
Get the recipe: Golden Turmeric Chickpea Chicken Soup
Boost your immunity with this smoky carrot soup:
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