How to safely preserve premade soups

pumpkin soup

Premade soups make perfect meals on busy days during the fall and winter months. Who doesn’t enjoy a hearty soup or stew to warm up on cold days? They’re considered comfort food for a reason.

Incidentally, they’re also convenient food. Soups make excellent slow cooker meals that can be prepared in advance, so they’re ready at dinner time. If you prepare and store soups in advance, dinner through the week can be reduced to putting it in the slow cooker and bringing it up to temp before work and enjoying it when you get home.

Preserving premade soups

Any premade soup should be prepared with food safety in mind. Not every soup can be canned and stored for later use, as some ingredients interfere with the heat transfer during processing and can result in foodborne illness. In some cases, freezing is a better option, in others, canning some ingredients and adding others when heating the soup is preferable. The safest preservation method is determined by the ingredients of the soup you’re making.

Soups to can

Some soups can be preserved using home canning techniques. Most will take between 60 and 90 minutes to process in a pressure canner. The actual time is determined by the ingredients in the soup and the size of the jars being used. The list below describes which soups and ingredients are safe to can.

  • Vegetable Soups. Vegetable soups with a simple broth base are safe to can. Fill each jar half full of solids. Then add broth, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Determine the processing time by using the processing time for the ingredient that takes the longest by itself.
  • Vegetable meat soups. Vegetable soups with pieces of cooked beef or chicken are also safe to can. Just follow the same instructions you used to can vegetable soup.

Other canning tips

  • Never use half-gallon containers to can soup.
  • Don’t pack ingredients too solidly in jars. Leave enough space for hot liquid to circulate between solid food particles (vegetables and meat) during processing.
  • Never add thickening agents to soups you plan on canning. Adding flour and other thickening agents prevents the contents in the center of the jar from being heated to a safe temperature to destroy bacterial spores that cause botulism.
  • Never can soups that include butter, milk, cream, cheese or other dairy products. These low-acid foods should never be added to canned soups before being processed.
  • Don’t add high starch products — noodles, alphabet noodles, spaghetti or other pasta, rice, barley — to soups before processing. They can interfere with heating your soup to a safe temperature during processing.
  • Don’t can pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli or cauliflower soup. These soups contain ingredients that clump together and interfere with safe processing.

Adding ingredients later

  • When canning a soup or stew that requires a thickening agent, wait until you are putting it in the slow cooker to add add flour, cornstarch or other thickening agent.
  • Add butter, milk, cream cheese and other dairy products to soup when you’re putting it in the slow cooker.
  • Add noodles, pasta, rice and other high starch products to canned soups and stews at serving time.

Soups to freeze

So how can you preserve all those creamed soups and soups that contain ingredients that aren’t suitable for canning? You can freeze them.

Freezing tips

  • Freezing temperatures don’t kill bacteria, but bacteria can’t grow in the freezer.
  • Use modified starches suitable for low temperatures to prevent thickened soups from separating.
  • Although you cannot can pumpkin, squash, broccoli and cauliflower soups, they are flavorful when frozen.
  • It is safe to freeze soups that contain pasta, rice or other high starch products; however, these products may become soft in freezer storage.
  • Frozen soup should be thawed in the refrigerator to avoid foodborne illness. Only use the microwave to defrost it if you plan on eating it immediately after.



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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s managing editor. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and being outdoors.


  1. I am an infectious disease epidemiologist and have read this mess about milk & dairy not to be canned! Melarky! You have condensed sweetened milk, Condensed milk, all are canned. The point to kill Clostridium Spp which is botulism, tetanus, perfringines, tuberculosis, avium, difficle These are most often causing disease. Most of these live in dirt. So they are ubiquitous. Honey has Botulism!

    Key is you Get Your Soup to Boil for 5 minutes which is over 185 degrees F or 85 degrees Celsius! It is killed.

    All Clostridium have a natural fatty coating around them. They also have spores.

    There is no reason if your jars are sterile, your equipment is sterile, your food is processed thus sterile… it is still sterile in the middle even if thickened.

    That is why they can do it commercially. You just have to be picky! Boil it and get your candy thermometer. Get your soups to over 185 you dont even have to boil but make sure you cook it at least 5 minutes. My mom always said 10 minutes.

    But she was off a farm in 1939. I am 62 yo.
    I think sometimes the old ways are forgotten, but I have canning books from 1940-1950’s and they all talk about it.

    I have canned many things like Meat packed and thick things like beans! Refried beans are very thick, yet sterile in a can.

    This is why you NEVER eat anything that is bulging or does not have a seal!

    You have to be careful in the store for bent cans, they can have a pin hole leak.

    Hope this helps you.

    I would can Cream of Mushroom soup! Better then store bought.

  2. Jean, do you have canning instructions for milk/creamed soup? I want to can my homemade cream of chicken, mushroom, celery, etc creamed soups. Thanks. I know canning is possible. I have Clearjel and a pressure canner.

  3. Thank you for your information. I also want to can potatoe soup. I use a pressure canner and understand about the temperature killing bacteria. Glad I saw your message. I was beginning to feel that I shouldn’t do it.


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