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Chat Leftovers: Cooling hot soup

Welcome to post-Thanksgiving Wednesday! I hope you're planning to join us today for the Food section's weekly Free Range chat. How did your Thanksgiving go? Got any big culinary successes or failures to report? Any lingering questions that might help you get ready for holiday cooking to come? Be there at 1.

Meanwhile, here's a question we couldn't get to in an earlier chat:

I want to start making a big pot of soup on Sundays to take to work for lunch during the week. Once I've cooked the soup, is it better to put it in a container and refrigerate it right away, or should I wait until the soup has cooled to room temperature before putting it in the fridge? Or does it not matter?

Food safety folks tell you not to cover and refrigerate hot food right away because covering it up will just trap heat and slow down the cooling process. On the other hand, the longer the cooked food sits out, the longer time it spends in that iffy temperature zone between 40 and 140, which you want to avoid. With a big pot, cooling could take quite a while.

What I do: I let the soup cool a little, then either put the whole pot, uncovered, in the fridge or parcel the soup into smaller containers and refrigerate those, also uncovered. Sometimes I give it a stir after a half-hour or so to hurry things along. Then when the soup has become cool, I can cover and seal the container/s. I've always done that with soups and stews, and it works great and keeps me safe.

By Jane Touzalin  |  December 2, 2009; 9:30 AM ET
Categories:  Chat Leftovers  | Tags: Chat Leftovers, Jane Touzalin  
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Comments

Wide shallow containers cool foods down the quickest. After I've made stock or soup I transfer it to one or more rectangular plastic containers. Then I cover and refrigerate it. I then place frozen blue-ice packs on the lid to facilitate cooling.

Posted by: StaffyOwner | December 2, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I put the pot in a sink or cooler with ice water to cool it down. Then re-pack, cover, and put in the fridge.

Posted by: SAF_dc | December 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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