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Extension > Food > Food Safety > Preserving and Preparing > Safe Meals > Cool soup safely

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Preparing Safe Meals

Soup in a plastic container with a meat thermometer in it

Cool soup safely

Debbie Botzek-Linn

Winter is a great time to make a large kettle of soup to enjoy for lunches or quick evening meals. Preparing a large batch of soup can present a food safety challenge: cooling!

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. The soup must cool from 140° to 70° F in 2 hours and from 70° to 40° F in no more than four hours.

Rapidly cool soup safely

Follow one of the following options to safely cool your soup.

Use ice water bath

An ice water bath is effective for cooling soups. This method helps decrease the food temperature quickly and safely.

Use shallow pans

The smaller the portions, the quicker the cool down.

Use ice in the recipe

You can reduce cooling time by adapting your soup recipe.

Use cooling paddles

These are more commonly used in a commercial kitchen.

Once cooled to 70° F, by using one of the above rapidly cooling options, 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 four days of preparation.

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.

Revised by Suzanne Driessen 2017

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