By Karen Fifield Michigan State University Extension Soup is so good on a cold day. Soup seems to be a fairly safe and easy item to have on the menu, and all you have to do is add some vegetables, broth, meat, beans or whole grains to make the creation spectacular. Soup can even be a good way to use up many leftovers that may be hanging out in the refrigerator. It is important to use up leftovers before they reach seven days in the refrigerator. Label and date leftovers each time you store them in the refrigerator so you can easily decide if you can use an item in your soup or if it should be thrown out. Generally, when soup is made it is in large quantity, this allows for extra portions to be frozen for use later when there isn't enough time to cook. Soup can be stored safely in the refrigerator for three to four days when cooled properly. You will want to know how many days you have left up to seven days with the left overs. For example, if you have corn in your soup and the date indicates it needs to be thrown out in the next five days you will want to date your soup to be thrown out in the next five days. Or you could freeze it in small portions, remembering to date and a label. When you are ready to use it from the freezer, thaw only what you need to use for the next meal. This allows you to be able to use all the soup instead of throwing it out. Another important method that needs to be done properly is cooling the soup. It is not safe to store a large pot of food in a refrigerator unless it has been cooled in an ice water bath or an ice paddle has been used to cool it down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours and then down to 41 F or below within the next four hours. Other ways to help cool the large pot of soup is to separate it out into smaller portions, in a dish no deeper than 2" with a large surface area to provide faster cooling. No matter how you look at it, soup is a good meal on a cool day and a good way to use leftovers. Michigan State University Extension wants to remind you to always cool foods properly for safe keeping. Storing food correctly keeps it safe to eat.