Soup is one of those perfectly versatile foods—it makes a satisfying lunch, filling snack, or light dinner and is especially welcome on a cold winter day. While convenient, store-bought canned soups are often filled with sodium and preservatives, but homemade soups allow you to control all of the ingredients. Though they don't last long in the refrigerator, you can preserve soup using a pressure canner to make future meals quick and easy.
Pressure canning soup is simple, and you can make extra the next time you cook a pot of soup for dinner or make a big batch of soup just for canning. It works for homemade broths and stocks as well, so you'll always have some on hand when needed for a recipe. There are, however, some key steps you need to take to ensure your homemade canned soup is safe to eat.
Pressure Canning vs. Water Bath Canning
A pressure canner is a heavy piece of equipment that cooks food at a higher temperature than boiling water. When canning low-acid vegetables that aren't pickled, you need to use a pressure canner versus a hot water bath; without the acid, the environment allows bacteria growth. This small appliance is also useful when preserving soups.
It is important to note that all soups, including vegetarian, must be pressure canned. You cannot safely can soup in a boiling water bath, or else you risk botulism. This food safety rule applies to stocks, broths, and soups with vegetables or meat.
How to Pressure Can Homemade Soup
Soups can range from brothy to chunky to creamy and, depending on the recipe, may feature a wide range of ingredients. Not every soup is a good candidate for canning, and there are several things to keep in mind before simply placing the finished soup in a jar. When pressure canning soup, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning provides valuable guidelines that you should follow:
- If the recipe uses pasta, rice, dairy, or thickeners, such as cornstarch and flour, leave them out of the soup. These ingredients don't stand up to pressure canning and should only be added when you're ready to heat and serve the soup. You can add salt to canned soup.
- You must fully rehydrate dry beans and peas before canning. For each cup of dried beans or peas, boil them in three cups of water for two minutes, then soak for one hour off the heat before bringing the water back to a boil.
- Cook meat until tender, let cool, then remove bones.
- Wash and prepare vegetables, then cook as if preparing them for a hot pack canning. Only include vegetables that stand up to canning and are on the National Center for Home Food Preservation's list of vegetables.
- Cook all of the soup ingredients together, boiling them for five minutes.
- Use the hot pack method: Fill the jars halfway with the solid ingredients, then fill with liquid (broth, tomatoes, or water), leaving one inch of headspace. If you don't follow this half-and-half rule and the soup is too thick, it may not properly heat all the way through. When the center is not cooked, the entire jar may be compromised.
Soup Canning Times
Even though soup ingredients vary, the USDA provides canning time and pressure guidelines. Remember that you need to adjust the canning pressure for higher altitudes. The pressure (PSI) required also depends on the type of canner you're using. Any soup that includes seafood needs to be processed for 100 minutes.
- Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner: Process pint jars for 60 minutes and quart jars for 75 minutes at 11 pounds PSI when canning between sea level and 2,000 feet. Add one pound of pressure for each additional 2,000 feet of altitude.
- Weighted-Gauge Pressure Canner: Process pint jars for 60 minutes and quart jars for 75 minutes at 10 pounds PSI when canning between sea level and 1,000 feet. Increase the pressure to 15 pounds PSI at any altitude above 1,000 feet.
If you are canning a clear broth or stock—be it meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable—bring it to a boil before filling the jars. Use the soup pressure recommendations for your style of canner and altitude, processing pint jars for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes.
Is It Safe to Can Puréed Soup?
Puréed soups require individual attention because they are thick and cannot follow the half solid-half liquid rule for canning soup. It's best to use the USDA guidelines for puréed and mashed pumpkin and winter squash, which state that you should not can these purées. The reasoning is that there are too many variables to the consistency of a low-acid food purée to provide a safe canning recommendation. There is a way around this, however.
When you have a soup intended to be puréed, prepare it but don't purée it. Instead, pressure can it just like any other chunky vegetable soup, and when you're ready to eat it, heat the soup and purée it.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. Burning Issue: Canning Homemade Soups. Updated May 1, 2019.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, Guide 04: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Vegetables and Vegetable Products. 2015.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. How Do I Can Vegetables: Soups. Updated February 19, 2015.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. Frequently Asked Canning Questions: Why do you say not to can mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash?.