Soup is the perfect winter meal. I love its warmth and how it makes me feel comfy and satiated after a long day. My grandma was a culinary genius, and a pot of homemade soup never missed her kitchen table.
However, reheating soup can be complicated, especially when microwaving it. While these handy kitchen appliances are quick and easy to use, they can turn your dinner into an explosion mess.
So, why did my soup explode in the microwave?
Soup explodes in the microwave due to uneven heating, with some parts overheating while others remain cold. As a result, steam pressure builds up in one spot within the soup. When the pressure becomes too much for the bowl or container to contain, it bursts open.
Please keep reading to learn more about microwaved soup explosions, safety tips, and solutions to this problem.
Why Does Soup Explode in the Microwave?
Soup explodes in the microwave due to uneven heating causing steam pressure to build up in one spot, a phenomenon known as superheating.
So, what exactly is superheating, and how does it relate to your soup exploding?
Let me explain!
Unlike traditional cooking methods such as baking or boiling, microwaves don’t distribute heat evenly, especially for high-water-content foods like soup. This, combined with the soup’s viscosity, is a recipe for disaster.
When microwaved, some parts of the soup become hotter than others, causing steam vapor within to build up and get trapped beneath the cool layers. Eventually, the pressure becomes too much to contain, and the container bursts open, spewing your soup all over your microwave.
Is it Dangerous to Reheat soup in the microwave?
If you use your microwave correctly and follow instructions, you can safely reheat soup without exploding.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but your soup bursting and spilling on your microwave interior should be the least of your worries. Although only a few reported cases, people had sustained severe burns from “exploded soup” when they removed it from their microwaves too soon.
Remember to let it sit for a few minutes before opening the door, or risk splattering hot liquid all over yourself. Still, this is a rare occurrence, but being extra careful never hurts anyone.
How Long Should I Microwave Soup?
Typically, it’ll take 2-3 minutes to reheat soup in the microwave.
However, the time may vary due to the following factors:
1. Microwave Wattage
Microwaves come in a variety of wattages, despite their outward appearance. Those with higher wattages will obviously cook food faster than those with lower wattages. For example, reheating soup in a 1200-watt unit will take less time than in a 600-watt model.
2. Amount of Soup Reheating at Once
The more soup you have in your container, the longer it will take for the microwaves to penetrate and heat. However, I recommend microwaving in batches rather than all at once to avoid overheating or spilling your soup.
3. Whether Thawed or Frozen
Remember to stir your soup every 60 seconds to ensure it reheats evenly.
How to Keep Your Soup from Exploding in the Microwave
Although soup explosions in microwaves are uncommon, you don’t want to take any chances. Like the adage says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and I wholeheartedly agree.
Here’s how to avoid an exploding soup catastrophe:
- Put a non-metallic object, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, into your soup pot before microwaving. This provides a surface for the soup to develop bubbles, inhibiting superheating.
- Stir your soup frequently, preferably every 30 seconds, to prevent hot and cold pockets, which can result in uneven heating if left unchecked.
- Place your soup container centrally on the microwave turntable to ensure even heat distribution.
- Periodically tap the side of the bowl to break the tension on the top layer of the soup. However, be gentle and careful to avoid damaging the bowl or spilling the contents.
- Never completely seal your microwaveable soup container; this will cause pressure to build up inside, potentially causing it to explode. Instead, I recommend leaving about an inch of space at the top for steam to escape or using a vented lid.
- Please don’t leave your soup unattended while reheating; it only takes seconds for something to go wrong. I recommend microwaving in short bursts rather than prolonged periods.
- Use only a microwave-safe container while reheating your soup. I prefer ceramic or glass containers as they can withstand high microwave temperatures.
- Use oven mitts or potholders when removing your soup from the microwave because it will be very hot.
The Best Way to Microwave Soup
Here is an easy step-by-step guide to microwaving soup without risking explosion.
- Transfer your soup from your pot into a microwave-safe container. If frozen, ensure to thaw before microwaving to reduce the reheating time.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap or a microwavable lid to prevent splatters but leave enough space for steam to escape.
- Insert any clean wooden spoon into the soup to prevent superheating.
- Place your bowl of soup in the microwave and nuke it in 30-60 second increments on high. Read the package guidelines carefully for the correct power level and cooking time, especially when handling canned soup.
- Remove the soup after every 30 seconds and give it a good stir to prevent hot and cold spots.
- Insert a food thermometer at least two inches deep into the center of your soup to check for doneness and safety. When the temperature hits 165°F, remove it from the microwave with oven mitts.
- Set aside your hot bowl of soup to cool for at least five minutes before serving.
How Long to Store Soup
It’ll last three days for homemade soup in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer before spoiling.
However, this will highly depend on the ingredients and the storage conditions.
I find that adding acidity to my soup, such as a can of tomatoes, makes it last longer. On the flip side, creamy chicken and seafood soups degrade quickly due to their high-fat content. In these cases, make smaller portions and eat them within two or three days.
Furthermore, ensure your soup is cooked or reheated thoroughly to kill any bacteria present. Soup safe for consumption should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit or higher on an instant-read thermometer.
Trust your gut if something seems wrong when storing your soup. A slimy texture, an unusual odor, or flavor could signify spoilage or bacterial growth. If in doubt, throw it out. You are always better off being safe than sorry.
Finally, keep your soup refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container with freezer bags. Remember to use the date label method to know when you made and stored the soup.
Microwaving is a quick and safe way to reheat your soup. While soup exploding in the microwave is rare, taking precautionary measures never hurts.
Ensure to insert a wooden object into the soup to prevent superheating and frequently stir to ensure even heating. Notably, only use a microwave-safe container and heat in short bursts.