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Dec 30, 2007 04:28 PM

Why did my chicken soup get kind of sour?

It's been less than 2 days since it was made (from scratch). There are parsnips, carrots, celery, onions, green beans, chicken, and noodles in it. The chicken pieces taste good.

Is it normal to get kind of lemony tasting? My SO loves it, but I'm nervous that it might have spoiled already.

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  1. Was it properly cooled? Soup needs to cool quickly, down to 40F within four hours. Either put the soup pot in a sinkfull of ice and water or a sinkfull of cold running water, or make sure it is in a shallow layer (no more than 4" deep), uncovered, in the refrigerator.

    4 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts

      It probably wasn't cooled down quickly at all. It tasted normal yesterday and the day before, but not today.

      Does this mean it's spoiled and I should throw it out?

      1. re: OysterHo

        I would toss it. Soup that's gone bad is said to sour.

        1. re: OysterHo

          Sorry to verify your fears, but yes.

          Chicken soup is a perfect medium for cultivating bacteria. They are killed at high temps above 140, and they don't multiply at low temps below 40. In the middle, they grow like crazy. Big containers of broth or stock need to be cooled as quickly as possible, in an ice bath or broken down into much smaller containers and placed first in the freezer. A big container of hot soup placed into a refrigerator does not cool nearly fast enough, which is compounded by it warming up the fridge at first.

          Once spoiled, boiling the soup will kill the bacteria but won't eliminate the toxins they have emitted into the broth nor correct the taste. Note also, even properly chilled soup or stock only has about three days in the fridge before it needs to be boiled again and then hopefully frozen. Also note, all homemade soups and stocks should be brought up to a boil for a couple of minutes when reheating, even if they have been stored in the freezer.

        2. re: babette feasts

          I never heard about cooling soup down quickly, but it's interesting information. Is this meant for all types of soup? As far as chicken soup is concerned, I generally take out the chicken, carrots, soup greens, etc., then pour through a strainer and once the soup has cooled down somewhat, pour into containers, then let it cool off a bit more and put it in the freezer. I am sure that it is in the freezer within 4 hours (usually less) after it is turned off, but not sure it's down to 40 degrees within 4 hours. It seems to me that soup is like any other food--you cannot leave it out "forever" without the risk of spoilage.

          I agree with others here--If in doubt, pitch it. Long run, it's safer and actually cheaper than ending up with food poisioning.

        3. If you don't think it was cooled down quick enough and stored properly then unfortunately, I would give it the benefit of the doubt, and throw it away. Personally, I don't take chances.

          1. Any grain or carb in a soup will go sour, I've found. I no longer refrigerate soup with noodles, rice, barley, spaeztle or any other grain or noodle in it. I'll strain it out, and chill it separately.


            1. This happened to me after Thanksgiving. I blame it on the aluminum bowl I put the soup in. The metal can react with the acidity in the soup (it's acidic even if you didn't add acid like lemon juice). It's the same reason you shouldn't make tomato sauce in an aluminum pot. While I don't think soup that's sour for this reason is unhealthly, it doesn't taste good. I ended up throwing all my turkey soup out - so sad! But lesson learned :)

              1. VERY VERY IMPORTANT - take the onion out as soon as your soup is done. Don't know why, maybe an old wives tale but my mum, grandma and every other Jewish woman I know takes the onion out. Makes the soup go sour. I never cut my onion up into chicken soup. Put them in whole and using a slotted spoon remove as soon as you turn off the heat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: smartie

                  This Jewish woman has always left in the onion (as has my Jewish mother), with no noticeable souring. I usually cut an X into the top, cutting about 1/3 of the way down into the onion before cooking, and leave it in with the other veggies.