Freezing soups and stews is a great way to prepare meals in advance and have tasty options ready to eat after a long day. Many types of soups freeze well, but when ingredients like heavy cream are involved, it raises the question if they will still have the right texture once thawed and reheated. Let’s take a closer look at whether it’s advisable to freeze potato soup made with heavy cream.
Can You Freeze Potato Soup with Heavy Cream?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze potato soup made with heavy cream. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to help the soup freeze and reheat properly:
- Use an appropriate heavy cream – Look for a pasteurized heavy cream that contains stabilizers or emulsifiers. This helps the cream maintain a smoother consistency when frozen.
- Avoid super high fat dairy – High fat products like half and half do not freeze as well. The fat can separate when thawed.
- Undercook the potatoes – Potatoes should be slightly undercooked when making the soup to allow for cooking during reheating.
- Cool properly before freezing – Let the soup come to room temperature before freezing so it chills evenly.
- Use freezer-safe containers – Choose containers that are moisture-proof and durable in the freezer.
- Freeze flat – Pour soup into containers in shallow layers rather than one deep block.
- Stir before freezing – Give the soup a gentle stir to distribute ingredients evenly.
- Leave headspace – Don’t fill containers to the top, leave about 1-2 inches of headspace.
- Seal tightly – Use tight fitting lids or freezer quality plastic wraps.
Following these tips will allow the cream to freeze solidly and minimize separation when the soup is eventually reheated.
What Happens When You Freeze Heavy Cream
To understand how heavy cream behaves when frozen in soups, it helps to know what happens to cream on a molecular level when it freezes. Here are the key things that occur:
- Water crystallizes – The liquid components turn into ice crystals.
- Butterfat solidifies – The fat molecules solidify from liquid into a solid mass.
- Emulsion destabilizes – The linkages between fat and water break down.
- Fat globules cluster – Globules of butterfat stick together.
These physical changes to the cream’s structure can result in some unwanted textures when frozen cream-based soups thaw. The cream may seem curdled, lumpy, or separated from the liquid. Proper handling is necessary to minimize texture issues.
How to Freeze Potato Soup with Heavy Cream
Here is a step-by-step guide to successfully freeze potato soup made with heavy cream:
- Start with a tried and tested recipe – Look for a potato soup recipe developed specifically to be freezer-friendly.
- Prepare the soup – Make the soup according to recipe up to the point before freezing. Undercook potatoes slightly.
- Let it cool – Allow the soup to cool completely, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Portion into containers – Ladle soup into rigid plastic or glass freezer containers. Leave 1-2 inches of headspace.
- Seal tightly – Secure lids or use plastic freezer wrap to seal out air.
- Label containers – Mark containers with name of soup, date, and any reheating instructions.
- Freeze promptly – Place containers in the freezer right away, don’t allow soup to sit at room temperature.
- Freeze flat – Arrange containers in a single layer in the freezer so soup freezes evenly.
- Store up to 3 months – For best quality and taste, use frozen soup within 3 months.
Freezing the soup in shallow layers and getting it into the freezer quickly prevents large ice crystals from forming and resulting in an undesirable grainy texture.
Tips for Freezing Cream Soups
Follow these handy tips for the best results freezing any cream-based soup, not just potato soup:
- Use freezer-safe containers – Opt for rigid plastic, aluminum, or glass containers that won’t crack in the freezer.
- Leave headspace – Liquids expand as they freeze so leave 1-2 inches of room at the top.
- Pre-chill containers – For faster freezing, you can pre-chill the containers before adding hot soup.
- Double wrap – For extra protection against freezer burn, double wrap containers with plastic freezer bags.
- Press out air – Before sealing containers, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the soup to remove excess air.
- Freeze individual portions – Freeze soup in portions ideal for one meal so you can thaw only what you need.
- Label properly – Clearly label each container with name, date, and reheating instructions.
Taking these steps helps guard against common freezing mishaps like soups bursting out of containers or vital information getting lost.
Can You Freeze Already Thickened Cream Soups?
If a cream soup already has a thickener like flour, cornstarch, or potato flakes added, it is okay to freeze it. However, the soup may continue thickening slightly when frozen, so you may need to thin it out with milk, cream, or broth when reheating. For easiest freezing, it is best to freeze cream soups before final thickening.
What About Freezing Condensed Cream Soups?
Condensed cream soups like condensed potato soup generally contain high amounts of sodium and preservatives that make them shelf-stable. This allows them to be stored at room temperature unopened. However, once opened, it is best to store them in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days. For longer storage, condensed cream soups can be frozen in airtight containers for 4-6 months.
Thawing and Reheating Frozen Potato Soup
Once frozen potato soup has been thawed and reheated, it should return close to the original just-made flavor and texture. Here are some tips for thawing and reheating:
- Thaw in the refrigerator – For food safety, thaw soups gradually in the fridge over 24-48 hours. Thawing at room temp can cause bacteria growth.
- Reheat on the stovetop – For best consistency, slowly reheat the soup in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring often.
- Add liquid if too thick – The soup may have thickened slightly while frozen, thin it out with milk, stock, or cream if needed.
- Simmer briefly after thawed – Let the soup simmer for 5-10 minutes after thawed and reheated to improve texture.
- Avoid boiling – Don’t let the soup come to a full rolling boil, as this can cause the cream to curdle or separate.
Take care not to overheat the soup or let it sit for a long time once reheated, as the cream can break down. Enjoy the thawed soup within a few days.
How Long Does Frozen Potato Soup Last?
Handling and storage impact how long frozen foods maintain optimal flavor and texture. For best quality, frozen potato soup made with heavy cream should be used within these timelines:
|0°F (-18°C) or below
|0°F to 32°F (-18°C to 0°C)
At very cold freezer temperatures below 0°F, the soup may last up to 4 months. At warmer freezer temps, use within 2-3 months for best flavor and quality.
How to Store Thawed Potato Soup
Once thawed, potato soup should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Follow these guidelines for storing thawed soup:
- Use within 3-4 days – Consume thawed cream-based soups within 3-4 days for best taste and texture.
- Do not refreeze – Refreezing may cause the texture to become grainy or watery.
- Keep air out – Keep soup chilled in an airtight container, not loosely covered.
- Avoid temperature fluctuations – Prevent soup going in and out of the fridge, which can breed bacteria.
The high moisture content of soup makes it prone to faster spoilage once thawed. Use thawed soup promptly and do not refreeze.
Signs Frozen Potato Soup Has Gone Bad
Monitor your frozen soup and watch for these signs that it may be spoiled and should be discarded:
- Ice crystals inside container – Large ice build up indicates freezer burn and drying out.
- Freezer burn spots – Creamy areas turn yellow or rancid tasting.
- Mold – Fuzzy mold patches appear anywhere on the surface.
- Separated liquid – Watery liquid or fat pools on the top.
- Strange odor – The soup gives off a sour, rancid, or rotten smell.
- Change in texture – Unnatural thick or slimy consistency.
- Discoloration – Unnatural or dull coloring.
Trust your senses – if anything seems off about the appearance, smell, or texture of the soup, it is safest to discard it.
With the proper handling, cream-based soups like potato soup can be successfully frozen for convenient meals later on. Use stable, pasteurized dairy products and minimize temperature fluctuations for the best outcome. Control the process by starting with a intentionally freezer-friendly recipe, pre-chilling containers, freezing flat in shallow layers, allowing headspace for expansion, and sealing tightly to prevent freezer burn. Thaw in the refrigerator before gently reheating on the stove while stirring often. Follow food safety guidelines and consume within recommended timelines. Freezing is a handy technique to enjoy your favorite potato soup anytime.