How long can soup last in the fridge? (3+ factors affecting shelf life)

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can soup last in the fridge?” and discuss how to properly store soup, what affects the shelf life of soup in the fridge, and how to know if soup has gone bad.

How long can soup last in the fridge?

Soup lasts about 3 to 4 days in the fridge (4). Soup usually contains different ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, in addition to salt and seasonings (1).

The shelf life of soup in the fridge depends on many factors, including the ingredients of the soup, the temperature of storage and the preparation method (3, 5). 

These factors will be discussed in the following sections of this article.

How to properly store soup?

To properly store soup, you should cool the soup to a temperature of 70 °F (21 °C) within 2 hours and to 40 °F (5 °C) within 4 hours after cooking the soup. If necessary, transfer the soup to shallow containers or divide the soup into small portions to increase the cooling rate (3).

Fast cooling is important to reduce the risk of microbial growth in the food leftovers (3). Keeping the food at room temperature is unsafe, as well as storing warm food. 

Storing warm food in the fridge leads to an increase in the internal temperature of the fridge, compromising the shelf life of the stored foods (7).

These improper practices that were mentioned (room temperature storage and storing warm foods) allow the fast growth of pathogens which can lead to foodborne illnesses.

You can store the cooled soup in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 to 4 months (4).

The shelf life in the freezer is limited by sensory properties rather than microbial spoilage, as freezing can halt the growth of microorganisms (5). Use an airtight container to avoid contamination during storage (4).

What affects the shelf life of soup in the fridge?

The main factors that affect the shelf life of soup in the fridge are (3, 4, 5, 6, 7):

The quality of the ingredients: Using fresh vegetable ingredients and high-quality meats can improve the shelf life of cooked soup. On the contrary, decayed vegetables can carry a great microbial load which may compromise the shelf life of the cooked food.

The ingredients added: Food ingredients, such as spices and herbs, contain many phytochemicals that can act as natural food preservatives. Pepper, oregano, sage, rosemary, cinnamon, garlic and lemon grass are some spices that can be added to the soup to help inhibit the growth of pathogens and extend the shelf life.

Cooking practices: Food can be contaminated by poor hygienic conditions and improper cooking practices. Hand washing, washing of the vegetables, cleaning of the cooking place and washing of the utensils are required to reduce contamination and prevent foodborne diseases.

The temperature of storage: The temperature of the fridge is not constant and may oscillate due to frequent opening of the door or overloading. The shelf life can be significantly affected if stored at higher temperatures. Instead of keeping the temperature to the optimal 4 °C (40 °F) or below, the domestic refrigerator temperature can be as warm as 9 °C (48 °F). 

How to know if soup is spoiled?

Spoilage in the food can be identified by sensory characteristics, especially related to the odour. During storage, not only microbial spoilage may occur, but also chemical and enzymatic spoilage due to degradation reactions of the food components (2, 3, 5).

Degradation of food generally manifests in the generation of unpleasant odours and flavours. You should carefully inspect the overall appearance and odour of the soup before eating it and avoid eating the soup if any signs of spoilage are noticed.

Some possible signs indicating spoilage in the soup are:

  • Generation of off-odours and off-flavours, such as rancid, oxidised, sour, fermented, putrid, ammonia-like and alcoholic.
  • Formation of a biofilm on the surface or a slimy texture.
  • Production of gas, due to fermentation caused by microbial activities.
  • Discolourations or the growth of mould.

Other FAQs about soup that you may interested in.

Can you eat expired boxed soup?

Can you eat soup cold?

Can you eat soup with diarrhoea?


In this article, we answered the question “How long can soup last in the fridge?” and discussed how to properly store soup, what affects the shelf life of soup in the fridge and how to know if soup is spoiled. 

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