Simply Soup

tomato vegetable soupThis cold, long winter will be a memorable one for many. Hopefully you made use of your reserve of fresh and preserved foods, but you may have made your way through it all! If you are already thinking about preparing for next year, then you may like the idea of canning soup to bring delicious and nutritious warmth during the coldest days.

Different from the vast majority of USDA canning recommendations, our recommendation for IMG_1071Canning Soup allows you to have some choice of vegetables, dried beans or peas, meat, poultry, or seafood. However, that does NOT mean that it is safe to can just any combination and proportions of ingredients, sorry!  For your safety, please regard these key precautions before before getting out your pressure canner (and yes, a pressure canner is required for canning soup):

  • Our recommendation for canning soup does NOT allow you to include noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening or dairy ingredients.
  • The procedure for canning soup says “Each vegetable should be selected, washed, prepared and cooked as you would for canning a ‘hot pack’ according to USDA directions”, which means that there must be a canning recommendation for each added ingredient. As examples, for this reason we cannot recommend adding cabbage nor cured meats like cured ham to canned soup.
  • It is also very important when canning soup that you “Fill jars halfway with solid mixture.” The reason behind filling the jar 1/2 with solids and 1/2 with liquid is to ensure the safety of the product. Our recommendation for canning soup may have a substantial amount of variability based on which vegetables and/or meats are selected and in what proportions. The 1:1 liquid to solid ratio ensures that a certain rate of heating occurs so Soup filled jars half and halfthat the dangerous bacterial spores of botulinum will be destroyed no matter which ingredients (that are noted in the recommendation as acceptable) you select and prepare as directed. Heat transfers more easily and quickly through liquid than through solids and dense mixtures, so a new canning process time would have to be determined through product testing if you were to increase the solid to liquid ratio.

If you choose to follow canning recommendations from another source, then you are choosing to trust their product testing of their recipe, procedure, and process time — they are responsible for their own product testing and you could certainly contact them if you have questions about their recommendations.

Our canning VegSoup1recommendations are meant to be followed exactly as written, and we unfortunately cannot provide individual testing of homemade recipes. If you are still wondering if you can can your favorite homemade soup recipe at home, please read our Burning Issue: Canning Homemade Soups.  Remember too that once you can soup as recommended, you can add your choice of ingredients AFTER you open the jars and re-heat the soup for serving!

4 thoughts on “Simply Soup

  1. Randal Oulton

    My tip for serving soups which are safely canned according to NCHFP recommendations: can them as per recommendations for safety and quality, but leave out the salt in canning, which you are allowed to leave out. When you go to serve them, transform them quickly in the bowl with something as simple as Parmesan cheese or saltine crackers.

    (A) Parmesan: When you serve the soup, after heating say in a microwave and putting in a bowl, sprinkle the soup with a tablespoon or two of grated Parmesan. The parm does four things: it adds a salty taste, it thickens the soup, it’s low in ww points / calories for those who are tracking that, and fourthly, it’s DEE-licious — it elevates all these safely home canned soups to a gourmet level. You can get large bags of surprisingly decent quality pre-grated parm inexpensively in chiller sections at various stores.

    (B) Crumble some saltines on top of your soup bowl: that is an old trick, but still delicious as well.

    I think we could all start letting our elected representatives know that we’d like more funding for research in these areas, but until then simple serving tricks can help to make a great safe home-canned soup even greater upon serving!

    You may even find yourself wishing there were more broth in your bowl! :}

    1. nchfp Post author

      Thanks for sharing those great tips, Randal! And remember too that in addition to classic finishing touches like crackers and cheeses, you can also add ingredients like avocado slices or quinoa that do not have canning recommendations to the re-heated soup as it is being served. And of course you can top it off with your preferred fresh garnish as well!

  2. sansa

    It would really be nice, for those of us who like heartier soups, for times and such to be determined for 2/3 solids versus half. The amount of liquid in your photo of the four quart-size jars of soup is just ridiculous!

    1. nchfp Post author

      I’m so sorry, but we are unable to satisfy requests for low-acid food process development.

      At this time, we are not able to test individual recipes at all; in particular, the cost of low-acid canned food development work is very expensive. Low-acid process development is also very time consuming, and unfortunately, I am not aware at this time of researchers having funds (and/or interest) to do this kind of work for publicly available, government recommendations. Someone might be but we have not been able to identify them. You might let canning jar, ingredient and canner manufacturers know what their customers want and ask them to address the work that needs to be done.

      What does process development look like? For any low-acid recipe, a canning process has to be proven to kill spores of C. botulinum through heat alone. You can find more details about heat-processing of home-canned foods in this Backgrounder publication (

      And, for safety’s sake, please recall the reasoning behind this limitation: if you make changes in the proportions of ingredients in our recommendations, then you cannot be sure that the process time is adequate to destroy microorganisms in the food. The bacteria that cause botulinum can survive and produce deadly toxin in underprocessed low-acid foods, like soups.

      Not all home canned soups will look like what our student is making in the photo chosen. It happens to be a chicken broth so you might not be seeing all the vegetables it is covering, and in addition, the downward angle of the camera makes a difference. If you used cooked tomatoes as your liquid, you would have a different view also (see photo at top of post and the photo added to the end for other appearances).

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