This Is How Long Most Soups Will Take To Go Bad

There's nothing better than homemade soup on a chilly autumn day. And there are few things that are easier to make in large, leftover-friendly batches than your favorite soup recipes. Just make a big pot of soup and eat what you want, then toss the leftovers in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to eat the rest.

However, food safety is nothing to take lightly. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), leaving food — including leftovers — out at an unsafe temperature is one of the two main causes of foodborne illness. Even if you have a large pot of soup on the stove, if it's finished cooking and you're not ensuring it's kept at 140 F or hotter, aka, out of the USDA's "danger zone" of between 40 F and 140 F, where bacteria multiply rapidly, you could be putting yourself at risk. Within two hours of cooking, your soup needs to be stowed away. 

The USDA advises you place a small amount of hot soup into the fridge directly or divide the soup into small portions, in shallow containers, for refrigeration. (Not only is this safer, but it's extra-convenient as well, as the leftover soup is already pre-portioned.) But once your soup is safely stored in the fridge, how long do you have before it goes bad?

Most soups are safe for almost a week

According to Martha Stewart, many soups will stay safe in the fridge for nearly a week before they need to be tossed, so long as you stored your soups efficiently and you keep your fridge below 40 F. However, the actual number of days you can safely enjoy your soup will depend on what kind of soup you made. Seafood soup will only last two to three days, creamy soups will likely last three, chicken soup lasts three to five, and high-acid and clear veggie soups last the longest. 

Still, if you smell, see, or taste anything "off," stay on the safe side and toss your soup. And when you reheat your leftover soup, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says to bring it to a rolling boil.

But what if you need your soup to last longer? What if you made a huge batch of chili and you want to eat it throughout the entire fall? Luckily, your soup will last even longer in the freezer than in the fridge — up to three months, according to Martha Stewart. However, it's worth noting that not all soups freeze well. Soups with cream, milk, or grains such as pasta and rice will have a less-than-desirable texture after freezing and reheating.