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tom_g's avatar

What's the best way to treat soup?

Asked by tom_g (16635points) May 16th, 2012

Let’s say you have a huge pot of soup that you would like to enjoy throughout the week – or at least for a few days. What would be the best method for reheating the soup that would allow for the freshest – and least spoilage?
My assumption here is that you take the portion you would like to consume and heat it thoroughly. However, I have had a few people tell me that heating the entire pot of soup is fine – and preferable – every time, and then just put it back in the fridge. This seems to be encouraging bacteria growth, by constantly bringing it up to a temperature that will take a long time to cool. But the people who have argued for this method seem to think that if you get a nice boil going, you’re killing any of the bacteria that had grown since the last boil.
Anyway, I’m really interested in the science here. Does anyone know?

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14 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Bring it to a boil and “that is that ”.
It may take a while to reheat each time but if brought to boil “no problem”.

ragingloli's avatar

Yeah, just bring it to a boil. As an added layer of security, put some plastic foil over the pot before you put it back into the refrigerator to minimise contamination of the rest of the refrigerator’s content.
I would recommend a temporal stasis chamber, but you do not have the technology yet.

hearkat's avatar

I would put it in single-serving containers, and heat it one portion at a time

tom_g's avatar

@Tropical_Willie – How many cycles? How long?

Admittedly, I am a bit squeamish about leftovers and tend to pass if they are more than a couple of days old. I think I get the whole “bring to boil” concept, but the boil doesn’t kill everything created during the past cool-down luke warm period, right?

ragingloli's avatar

The temperature at which proteins denature is at about 60 degrees. Unless the bacteria have special enzymes that make them heat resistant (like those around deep sea smokers), they will die at the 100 degree boiling temperature. And you do not have to sterilise everything for it to be safe to eat anyway. There is bacteria on everything you eat, no matter how fresh it is.

tom_g's avatar

@ragingloli: “There is bacteria on everything you eat, no matter how fresh it is.”

I know. Like I said, I have a bit of an irrational fear here that was sparked by a couple bouts of severe food poisoning.

As for the boiling – so it sounds like we are dealing with a near infinite number of “cycles”? What about total time? If I have a huge pot of soup that we reheat once per day, should this be safe to eat after 4 days? 5?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@tom_g it should be. Personally if I am not going to eat it all, I will package the leftover soup in pint or quart sized tupperware containers and freeze it. One or two of the packages would probably go into the fridge instead of the freezer.

Sunny2's avatar

I do the bring to a boil the whole pot, eat as much as you like, cool it and put the pot in the fridge. If it gets too thick, I may add broth. I may add leftover veggies or meat or some salads. Some people call this “kitchen sink soup”, but I call it one-of-a-kind soup. You’ll never get the same exact thing again. Have you put tree nuts in soup? Interesting texture.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t know whether repeatedly heating and cooling the soup would put you at risk of food poisoning but I refrigerate and then freeze leftover soup in portion sizes and then reheat what I need. I would be concerned that there might be some bacteria that could survive the temperatures you could heat food to under normal kitchen conditions. I wouldn’t want to risk it.

cazzie's avatar

I know a tad about organic chemistry and food. I would make the soup and eat it the first night, then I would put it in portions and freeze it and take it out as you want to eat it. I don’t like my food killed multiple times. You don’t want the ‘bad’ bacteria growing in the soup, so keep things clean. Temperature is key when you want to kill bacteria or grow them. If you keep cooking the soup, I think it would make it taste icky as well. If you aren’t familiar with safe food practices, I suggest you read this website or keep it handy for future reference.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Basics_for_Handling_Food_Safely/

I think they go over board a bit with tossing out any food left out rule, but I don’t live in a warm climate by any means, so we don’t have to be as careful about food certain fast bacterial growth, but if you have a well heated home or live in a warm climate, I would be more vigilant than what I do currently.

augustlan's avatar

Personally, I just scoop out the portion I want to eat and reheat that. If it isn’t all gone after two days, I’d freeze it. I’m very food/bacteria cautious.

rooeytoo's avatar

Eat the soup first day made. Next day reheat only what I want to eat. Whatever is still left, I freeze in 1 meal portions and defrost only when I want it.

awwwww @auggie beat me to it, but I concur!

learning23's avatar

i guess the best way is to eat it out in one time. lol…

MissAnthrope's avatar

I would keep it refrigerated and remove serving portions to heat up. It’s a waste of energy to reheat the whole pot through multiple times, not to mention it increases risk of bacteria or whatever. I realize that boiling, if done adequately, will sterilize the soup, but I find it distasteful to think about increasing numbers of bacteria in my food, dead or not. :)

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