Sad Soup Story
March 5, 2015 5:38 PM   Subscribe

Can-I-eat-this filter: Homemade chicken noodle soup sitting out on the balcony in the snow, thawed overnight on the counter, then left in the fridge for 2 days. Now it tastes funny...

I really can't believe I'm asking a "Can I eat it?" question, but it's just too much food to waste, and I can't afford to take a sick day tomorrow.

I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup a few weeks ago. It contained homemade chicken broth (from the bones/trim of a store-bought rotisserie chicken), some shredded chicken meat, standard veggies and spices, egg noodles, herb butter, and some soy sauce. Once the soup was done, and slightly cooled off (still very warm, though), I put it into plastic containers. One went into the fridge, and I ate it the next day (it was SUPER delicious, and not at all weird tasting). The rest went onto my balcony, buried completely in the snow. I live in Quebec, and we've been floating between -35c and -5c, and the snow has stayed there, so I'm 99% certain the soup stayed frozen. My boyfriend and I ate one of the tubs of soup last week, and it was, like the first one, delicious. Still no weird taste.

Two nights ago, I set a (1ltr?) container of it out on the counter to thaw. When I checked on it 7 hours later in the morning, it was very cold, but not frozen. I put it in the fridge.

Tonight, I got it out of the fridge, and heated it up on the stove. I included 5-6 broth ice cubes, which were, admittedly, covered in frost, because the bag wasn't closed all the way. Heated it till almost boiling, added more soy sauce, maybe a touch too much.

It tastes weird. Not like how it tasted the 3 other nights I've had it. Almost... nutty? Meaty? I can't quite put my finger on what it tastes like, just a little weird. It may very well just be the freezer burned ice cubes (which I didn't add to the other batches), but I don't know. I REALLY do not want to make myself sick, but throwing out 3 litres of awesome, healthy, kinda pricy soup would make me really sad.

So, mefites, can I eat this soup I've heated up? Is it safe? Should I add something to cover the flavor? Is the second half still sitting out on my balcony ok to eat? How can I not screw that one up, too? Help!
posted by hasna to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would carefully taste a bit of the stuff left on the balcony, and if it doesn't taste off, eat it. I would not eat any more of the one that tastes off.
posted by Night_owl at 5:46 PM on March 5, 2015

I come down about 60/40 on can I eat this questions in favor of eat it, but you lost my vote with "it tastes weird." Never eat something that tastes weird. Being able to perceive that something tastes off is a survival instinct. Ignore it at your peril!
posted by cecic at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2015 [26 favorites]

It tastes funny. That's all you need to know. Don't eat anything that tastes funny. Whether it will make you sick or not, it won't be pleasurable.
posted by neroli at 5:48 PM on March 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

I would not eat the one that tastes weird because I'd be too worried about getting sick. However, I would still eat the ones on the balcony as long as they tasted normal to me. I would also not add the broth ice cubes to them.
posted by Lingasol at 5:50 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't thaw food on the counter - it's not a safe method. Use the fridge or a cold water bath by filling up your sink with ice water and submerging the container. Change out the water every 30 minutes.

Is there a reason that you are using your balcony instead of your fridge to preserve food? I would just use your regular fridge and freezer for this. No reason to rely on the snow outside.
posted by sockermom at 6:06 PM on March 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

When I was trying to cool a 5-gallon bucket of hot wort whilst homebrewing, I discovered that a snowbank acts as a good insulator. It's possible that your soup did not cool as quickly as you thought, and was in the danger zone for a while. Do not eat.
posted by coppermoss at 6:16 PM on March 5, 2015 [15 favorites]

I'm almost never in the 'don't eat it' camp but 'chicken that tastes funny' is over the limit to me. I think you got your money's worth out of this one already.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:18 PM on March 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

It sounds totally fine to me, and I would eat it, but that doesn't matter. You said you can't afford to take a sick day. If you can't afford to take a sick day, any risk whatsoever isn't worth it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:19 PM on March 5, 2015

posted by Miko at 7:59 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Chicken, you say?



As someone who has just recovered from a bout of food poisoning, so has it fresh in her mind: SO not worth it.
posted by Salamander at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

No. Do not eat this.

Two nights ago, I set a (1ltr?) container of it out on the counter to thaw.

There's your problem. Thawing in any manner other than in the fridge or under cold running water is a bad move; it potentially leaves large portions of the product in the danger zone for an unacceptably long time.

Sorry, but the soup is garbage.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:00 PM on March 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Personally, I think you're tasting the freezer-burned broth cubes and too much soy sauce. Personally, I'd taste-test the outside batch and eat it if it seemed consistent with the way it tasted when you first made it.
posted by desuetude at 10:04 PM on March 5, 2015

I don't know much about food safety, but -5 Celsius is a fair bit warmer than a freezer is normally kept. And my understanding is that the colder the freezer, the better it preserves food. So in addition to the other things mentioned, I'd wonder if storing it at swinging temperatures going up that high might compromise the quality.
posted by primethyme at 10:08 PM on March 5, 2015

I set a (1ltr?) container of it out on the counter to thaw. When I checked on it 7 hours later...

I'll pretty much eat anything a teensy bit sketchy, but when I read that I was all like no, no and no.

Maybe it's fine, and the weird taste is from freezer-burned broth cubes, but I wouldn't risk it.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:25 AM on March 6, 2015

Are you even going to enjoy eating something that tastes weird? Or rather - eating something that tastes weird WHILE part of your brain is wondering if you're going to get gut-twistingly sick because of it?

I'm generally cavalier about food safety to the point of unwisdom, and homemade chicken soup is one of the top three foods I love with a deep and abiding passion, but even I would pass on your weird-tasting batch. Defrost the rest and give it a taste if you like, but if it tastes equally weird I'd dump it while shaking my fist at a cold and uncaring universe.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:48 AM on March 6, 2015

If you have to ask, the answer is no.
posted by evilDoug at 5:59 AM on March 6, 2015

See if the soup in the pot, without the broth cubes, "tastes funny". If so, then the soup is bad. Otherwise, the problem was the broth cubes.
posted by ardgedee at 6:09 AM on March 6, 2015

NO, you have basically created a fluid specifically well suited for growth of bacteria, and you don't know which ones you have grown.
posted by mumimor at 9:21 AM on March 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

In case you needed an official imprimatur on the discard order, you are setting off every one of my epidemiologist alarms. Your story sounds like the case study narratives we read during graduate school when we're learning how to interview patients in a food-related cluster of illnesses.

I get the sads, too, when a labor-intensive batch of food goes off before I think it should. C'est la vie. Read up on safe defrosting and food storage and apply it next time. Even then, there are random variables that can render your failsafes moot. It tastes funny is millions of years of neocortical evolutionary pressure telling you to be smarter than your hungry, stingy lizard brain, though.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:35 AM on March 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

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