Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life, spoilage, and storage of lentil soup. Learn how long lentil soup lasts, how to store it, and when to toss it.
Cooked a big batch of lentil soup and wondering how much time you have to eat it? How long does cooked lentil soup last?
Or maybe yours has been in the fridge for a few days already, and you want to know if it’s still safe to eat.
If so, this article is for you. Let’s jump straight in.
How Long Does Lentil Soup Last?
Freshly cooked lentil soup lasts 3 to 4 days if you refrigerate it in a resealable container or lidded pot. If that’s not long enough for your needs, you can freeze it.
You might find some recipes saying you can store the soup in the fridge for up to 7 days, but doing so is a bit risky. Sure, in most cases, your lentil soup will be fine after 5 to 6 days, but I suggest you adhere to the 3 to 4 days recommended by the USDA. This way, there’s a much smaller chance you’ll end up with spoiled soup (or food poisoning).
If you need more time, you can freeze the soup, which I cover later in the article.
For now, let’s move on to storage.
How to Store Lentil Soup?
You should refrigerate your lentil soup leftovers in an airtight container or lidded pot as soon as it cools to about room temperature and use it within 3 to 4 days. Or you can freeze it if that’s not long enough.
When storing any leftover soup, keep in mind the 2-hour rule. That rule says that you should cool and refrigerate any cooked leftovers within two hours of cooking to minimize the chances of microbial growth.
Of course, if you leave the soup on the counter for two hours and ten minutes, nothing bad will happen, most likely. But the longer it sits unrefrigerated, the higher the chance any microbes in it will rapidly multiply and make you sick after eating the soup or grow mold.
If you have a giant pot of homemade lentil soup, leaving it on the counter to cool will take hours, so that’s not an option. Instead, divide the soup into several large shallow containers or soup plates. This way, it’ll be ready to refrigerate in less than an hour.
The only downside of this method is that it produces a bunch of stuff to clean up. I know it’s a pain, but you got to do what you got to do.
(The same rules apply to cooked lentils, which I talk about in my article on the shelf life of lentils.)
Next up, let’s talk freezing.
Can You Freeze Lentil Soup?
Lentil soup freezes well. To freeze, divide it into several meal-sized portions and freeze each in an airtight container or freezer bag. Make sure there’s a bit of headspace so that the soup has room to expand when it freezes.
Lentil soup typically doesn’t contain any dairy, but if you happen to whiten yours using cream, half and half, or milk, postpone that until you’re reheating the soup. Otherwise, it’ll separate after thawing, the same way sour cream separates when frozen and defrosted.
(You can sort of fix that by simply blending the soup after reheating, so that’s not a big deal if you blend your lentil soup anyway.)
Defrost the soup in the fridge overnight or on the stove.
If you go with the latter, use low heat and add a bit of water to get things going. And keep stirring it every minute or so, so it doesn’t burn. Lentil soups are typically super thick, so they burn easily.
(I cover freezing soups in much more detail in my article on the shelf life of soups, in case you’re interested.)
Reheat your lentil soup in the microwave or on the stove, depending on what’s more convenient. But no matter the method, make sure the soup reaches 165°F (or 74°C) so that any harmful microbes are destroyed in the cooking process.
(This ensures the soup is safe to eat, basically.)
If you don’t have a food thermometer on hand, bring your lentil soup to a gentle simmer and keep it simmering for 2 to 3 minutes. That will ensure it’s hot enough.
Finally, lentil soup is typically quite thick, so you should reheat it on low and stir it often, so the bottom doesn’t burn.
And if it does burn, leave it this way and keep stirring without scraping the bottom. The burned black bits scraped from the bottom is the last thing you want in your soup.
When to Toss It?
Discard your lentil soup if it’s moldy, smells off, has any off flavors, or you store it for longer than 3 to 4 days. That’s the gist of it.
For starters, if there’s any mold on the surface, your lentil soup is done for.
Next, give it a good whiff to check if it has turned sour or gives off any funky smell. If anything seems fishy, assume it’s no longer safe to eat.
When it comes to storage time, you can extend it to maybe five days, but you should be extra cautious if you go this route. Instead, I suggest freezing the leftovers next time around.
Finally, let’s talk flavor.
If everything seems okay until this point, you reheat the soup and give it a taste before serving. If the soup tastes off or the flavor has significantly changed, discard it.
One thing that might happen is that your lentil soup will taste a bit too salty after reheating. That’s a result of water evaporation, which is normal if you don’t use a lid when reheating or let it simmer for too long. Add 1/4 cup of water, stir it, and check the flavor. Add more water if needed.