Welcome to Help Desk - a brand new feature where Eatocracy editors and our coterie of experts will help readers with their culinary conundrums from fixing recipe mess-ups and subbing in missing ingredients to scoring impossible restaurant reservations and hosting memorable soirees. Let us know what you need in the comments below and we'll do our best to address it in a future post.
Q: In the past when making soups I have more often than not opened a container the day after cooking to find a block of swollen, saturated noodles with not a drop of broth left. What's that all about? How do I avoid it? - Pete M., Chapel Hill, NC
The longer noodles sit in broth, the more liquid they'll absorb, so I suggest removing them from the equation. Once your creation has cooled, using either a colander or a slotted spoon, strain out as much of the solid matter - noodles, meat and vegetables - and place it in a lidded container with just a few spoonfuls of the base liquid. Store the broth in a separate container, refrigerate both, and reunite the twain in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl when you're ready to get your soup on. Or, as reader KL points out, you can also cook the noodles separately and add them in as needed.
And didja see how I mentioned the bit about letting your soup cool before sticking it in the fridge? That's a crucial step in thwarting bacteria and keeping your refrigerator at a safe temperature.
Either plunge the soup pot into an ice water filled sink, distribute the soup into smaller containers or wide pans, or drop a frozen water bottle into the pot for quick cooling. Once containers are in the refrigerator, don't stack or cover them until they're below 40°F; they need room to allow air to flow around them. Your goal - get the soup below 40°F as swiftly as possible without raising the temp of your fridge.
Happy (and safe) souping to you, Pete!
Got a clever soup solution? Dish out your best advice in the comments below and we just might feature your response in an upcoming edition of Help Desk. And if you've got a kitchen quandary of your own, let us know and we'll do our darndest to assist you.
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