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Mason jar soups are a meal-prep game-changer: Here's how to make them

A chef shares her tips for making Mason jar soups a part of your meal-prep routine.
Move over, salad-in-a-jar.
Move over, salad-in-a-jar.Tasty / Facebook
/ Source: TODAY

Sure, you've made salad in a Mason jar, but have you tried making soup?

In the MealPrepSunday subreddit, Redditors like Jon, who lives in Colorado and posts as arctic_radar, share photos of their jarred soup creations. And, with their brightly colored vegetables and translucent noodles, the soups are visually stunning.

But Jon told TODAY Food his Mason jar soup creations are more than just eye candy.

"I've been meal prepping for a few years now," he said. "It allows me to have a home cooked meal every day without having to cook two or three times a day, and it also allows me to keep an eye on my portions."

"I love soup," Jon added, "especially in the winter. So when I discovered 'just add hot water' soup jars I was immediately sold."

Jon says his go-to soup-in-a-jar recipe is a chicken and dill instant noodle recipe he found on Serious Eats.

"These worked great for me," he said. "Just boil the water, add it to the jar, wait five minutes and dump it into a bowl. I make it with egg noodles and it couldn't be simpler."

Rie McClenny is a video producer and recipe creator at Tasty, and created a miso soup Mason jar noodle recipe for the site in 2016. To make McClenny's version of the dish, ingredients like uncooked rice noodles, cooked chicken and vegetables get added to a Mason jar, lidded and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. When it's time to eat, simply open the jar, add boiling water and let the mixture steep for three minutes before eating.

McClenny told TODAY a big benefit of any Mason jar meal prep is that the glass containers take up less space in the refrigerator, something that comes in handy when prepping multiple portions at once.

But there is one small downside.

"Mason jars conduct heat," said McClenny," so when you add hot water it's a little bit hot to hold. I would recommend transferring to a bowl so it's easier to eat and to mix the ingredients. I use the Mason jar just as a container."

As far as tips for making your own heat-and-eat soups in jars, McClenny says it's a good idea to precook the noodles unless you're using a fast-cooking noodle like rice vermicelli.

"If you want to use pasta, you want to cook it ahead because you're just pouring hot water and that won't cook dry pasta," she explained. "And the same with protein or vegetables — you want to use something that cooks fast or has been sliced very thin."

For example, McClenny recommends chopping carrots extremely thin or shredding them, as they won't reach the preferred level of softness if they're left in larger pieces.

"Snap peas, you can julienne so they cook faster," McClenny suggested. "Or, you can use vegetables you don't mind eating raw like bean sprouts or scallions."

For protein, McClenny recommends pre-roasted chicken or thinly sliced beef that'll be cooked by the boiling water.

"I use miso as the base," McClenny added. "It dissolves really quickly and most major grocery stores sell it. If you want to try a different profile, you can do Thai curry paste or something else that has a nice flavor."