Using poultry leftovers for soup #816997

Asked November 28, 2022, 4:03 PM EST

I am generally aware that cooked poultry left overs kept in the fridge at under 40 degrees should be consumed within three days. If I make a chicken noodle soup on the third day, for example, with the chicken simmering with stock and vegetables for a half hour or so, will this extend the time the chicken (now in the soup) can safely stay in the fridge? Or, if I make the soup on the third day, should it go straight to the freezer? If cooking the left over poultry does extend its "shelf life," is it a process that can be safely repeated more than once?

Lane County Oregon

Expert Response

You have some good questions.  Time and temperature are important for safety.  A good rule is that life begins at 40 degrees and ends at 140.  That said, some bacteria produce spores that are heat resistant. Therefore the quicker you can cool your food and get it out of the danger zone the longer it will be safe to eat.  

The recommended storage days are guidelines.  It all depends how long the food was out before you refrigerated it and how cold your refrigerator is.  

If you cooled your turkey to refrigerator temperature within the 2-3 hour recommendation and then made soup from leftovers and cooled it quickly after you made it,  it will be safe for a few more days in the refrigerator.  That said if you didn't cool it quickly and left it on the stove for a few hours it might not be safe for a few days.  Does that make sense.  

For my personal example, I cooled my turkey leftovers quickly after dinner and put them in the refrigerator. Then made a big pot of turkey stock with the bones the next day.  The stock was cooked for many hours, then at the end of the cooking time, I cooled quickly by stirring it with frozen bottles of ice.  When cooled put into small containers and refrigerated again.  When cold, I froze some of the stock and turkey and made soup out of some of it.  Cooled the soup quickly and refrigerated it again.  Will eat if for a few more days.  I am always sure to reheat my soup to 165 degree F. before serving.  

It is hard to explain in writing.  I suggest you use good judgement.  The quicker it was cooled and refrigerated the longer it is safe.  If you see any signs of spoilage then do not consume and remember the days they recommend are guidelines. 
Want you to know I am enjoying some chicken noodle soup right now that was made from the Thanksgiving turkey and will probably enjoy some for a few days.  Also have some frozen for later.  

Thanks for using Ask Extension

Nellie Oehler
Nellie Oehler Replied November 28, 2022, 4:57 PM EST

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