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Preparing Safe Meals

mother and daughter eating soup

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 degrees and 140 degrees 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 degrees to 70 degrees F in 2 hours and from 70 degrees to 40 degrees F in no more than four hours.

To rapidly cool soup safely, follow these guidelines:

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.

Do not put a large container of hot soup directly into the refrigerator. It may take too long to cool and can raise the internal temperature of your refrigerator.

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.

Peer reviewed by Kathy Brandt 2015

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