Photo: Michael Ahanov via 123RF

Busy weeknights often mean quick dinners for the family. Unfortunately, many frozen meals and fast-food options aren’t very nutritious. Set yourself up for success by making and freezing healthy soups ahead of time. You’ll be thankful for having something easy to reheat on those busy nights.

How to Freeze

No matter your soup recipe, there are a few guidelines for freezing. For a large batch, freeze it in single-meal quantities for easier reheating. Glass jars are a great option and are safe to freeze with a few precautions. Make sure to let your soup cool completely before putting it into a glass jar to minimize extreme temperature changes. Always leave about an inch of room at the top to allow the liquid to expand when it freezes. Wide-mouth jars with flexible lids (plastic or silicone) will allow your food to expand. Alternatively, you can freeze them in gallon-size freezer bags. Lay the bags flat for the best results. Soups can stay in the freezer for up to a year, but their flavor and texture may deteriorate after about three months.

How to Reheat

When it’s time to reheat, the best system is to think ahead! Place the soup in the refrigerator the night before serving so it can thaw slowly. You can quickly heat it on the stovetop 15 minutes before dinner if it’s thawed. Another easy option is to use a slow cooker. Place the frozen soup directly into the slow cooker and heat on high for 30 minutes. For creamy, thick soups, you may need to add a bit of liquid during reheating. Wait to add garnishes like fresh herbs, sour cream, or grated cheese until you serve.

Photo: Ozgur Coskun via 123RF

Best Vegetarian Soups

Many vegetarian soups include pasta or starchy vegetables to add bulk. Undercook your starches slightly before freezing so they don’t get too mushy when you reheat them later. This classic vegetable soup recipe is the perfect base for adding whatever you harvest in the garden or have in the fridge. If your family loves hearty soups, try this vegetarian mushroom barley recipe. It’s quick to make and reheats well. You can easily add other vegetables to the mix as well. Although raw greens don’t freeze well, this hearty sweet potato kale soup will hold up over time since the kale cooks first. For a twist on Taco Tuesday, freeze this taco soup recipe that uses two kinds of beans for protein and that quintessential taco flavor. It’s easy to adjust the spice level as needed for your family.

Best Hearty Soups and Stews

Ensure you cook meat to the desired temperature before freezing it in a soup. Alternatively, you can freeze the vegetable and liquid portions, then add your protein on the day. This chicken and dumplings soup is an easy way to have a filling meal on a busy weeknight. The dumplings are simple to make and freeze well. For a spicier option, make a big batch of this cheesy chili. It’s perfect on cold nights when you need something zesty to warm you up. For chili flavors without spicy heat, try this stuffed pepper soup. It’s chunky and rich but doesn’t use any chiles. If you’re looking for a soup that’s easy to make and simple to reheat, try this smoky ham and split pea soup. Cooking everything in a slow cooker makes preparation simple. Blend it all before you freeze or wait until you reheat.

Whether you’re making enough vegetable soup to last through the winter or preparing for that busy week next month, these soups are easy to make and freeze. Try one today!