Can I Eat Vegetable Soup Left Out For 12 Hours

by Ceejay

12 hours is a pretty long time after you’ve prepared your meal to be worried about the health implications, most especially if you left it outside the fridge. That being said, can I eat vegetable soup left out for 12 hours?

Well, there are too many factors at play here for me to just give you a clear and definitive answer. Did you cover it properly? Was it outside at room temperature? What was the type of vegetable used? Is it dairy based? These factors can determine how long your vegetable soup will last inside and outside the fridge.

Instead of trying in futility to go through all the factors, I think it’ll be best to give you some things to look out for so you’d apply it on your own.

How quickly a particular food will spoil depends on whether it’s a high risk food or a low risk food. According to, while all foods can cause food poisoning if not handled properly, bacteria can grow faster and better in some foods than others.

High risk foods and low risk foods

Can i eat vegetable soup left out for 12 hours

Foods that can easily support the growth of bacteria are known as high risk foods. These need to be cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time and then stored properly in a freezer or fridge.

Some examples of high risk foods include
  • All dairy products,
  • Poultry,
  • Meat or meat products,
  • Fish,
  • Seafood,
  • Eggs.

On the other hand, low risk foods don’t easily harbor harmful microbes due to being low in water content, high in sugar, acid, or salt. They typically don’t spoil easily.

Common examples include
  • Candies,
  • Bread,
  • Most other baked goods,
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables,
  • Pickles,
  • Syrups,
  • Vinegars,
  • Jam,
  • Honey.

Low risk foods lose most of their high shelf life when they get cooked. They could also get contaminated through food handling.

Now that you’ve gotten the basics, let’s try a particular scenario. Let’s say you decide to use potato as the vegetable here, according to this recipe I found from all recipes, the main ingredients are potato, celery, carrot, onion, mixed vegetables, parsley, condensed cream of celery soup, etc.

If you leave this one out for 12 hours in a well covered pot at room temperature, you should be able to warm it up and eat it. This is because a lot of the ingredients are low risk. However, It’s not going to be a 100% safe as there’s still a chance it could be contaminated through improper handling and storage.

If you open it after 12 hours and it doesn’t smell bad, isn’t sticky, or doesn’t have bubbles, it’s most probably okay to warm it up and eat it.

Now imagine there was dairy product in that (what I’m saying doesn’t only apply to the type of soup I mentioned earlier), or chicken/beef broth? Since those are high risks, the chances of them spoiling and harboring harmful microbes will be much higher and you’d have to be more careful in handling them.

Can I eat vegetable soup left out for 12 hours?

What I’ve been trying to say ever since is this: if it doesn’t smell bad, doesn’t have bubbles, isn’t sticky and showing other visible signs of spoilage, you should be able to warm it up thoroughly and eat it. However, bare it at the back of your mind that if the soup contains high risk foods or food products like dairy, meat, etc, you should expect it to spoil faster.

How long does home made vegetable soup last out of the fridge

The USDA will quickly say “Anything kept outside the fridge at room temperature for more than 2hrs should be discarded.” Well let’s face it, unless your annual salary is more than half a million dollars, that’s not a very practical thing to do. I mean, you’re here because you searched for whether you can eat vegetable soup left out for 12 hours.

If you need a straight answer from experts, then vegetable soup should not be consumed after 2hrs of being out of the fridge at room temperature.

Frequently asked questions

Is the soup completely safe if it shows no visible signs of spoilage?

Hate to break it to you but no. The USDA wasn’t kidding around when they made that 2hr rule. The thing is that when you begin to eat food that has been left out of the fridge after long hours, at room temperature, you’re basically taking a gamble. Bear it at the back of your mind that even though it looks and smells fine, it doesn’t mean it’s totally free from microbes and the toxins they produce.

You might get away with eating food, in this case vegetable soup, left out for long hours outside the fridge without getting sick much more times than not, but note that there’s a small chance that even though it looks and smells fine, you could still get sick. Most people don’t take this seriously because it’s something that hardly happens, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Can I leave stew overnight to cool?

Leaving stew overnight to cool isn’t really a good idea. If you need it to cool, why not leave it in the fridge? You’re just exposing it to the risk of attracting harmful microbes that could make you sick.

Chicken soup left out overnight (covered)

If you’re asking whether you can eat chicken soup left out overnight (covered), I explained it thoroughly in this article.

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