Soup & Chili Recipes


Broth vs Soup: 4 Key Differences and When to Use Each

Broth vs Soup Differences

Broth vs Soup: 4 Key Differences and When to Use Each

Soup and broth are two liquid food items that are found easily in any grocery store. Broth and soup are often used interchangeably when discussing soups, stocks, broths, and other liquid dishes. However, many people use both words and items frequently but don't necessarily know the key differences behind the food items. Let's dive into the differences between broth and soup in more detail!

Broth vs Soup: What are the Key Differences

The main difference between broth and soup is that broth is typically thinner and less filling while soup can range from thin to creamy. Both is made by simmering water with meat, but can also include bones and vegetables. Soups will often use broth as a base, but use additional amounts of vegetables, meats, and sometimes grains as well.

Broth can be drunk on its own, but it's rarely a meal. Soup can be served as a meal or as a side dish. Let's dive into more details below.

What is Broth?

Broth is a liquid base that is also known as bouillon in the kitchen. The liquid base is usually made by cooking and simmering different meats with vegetables and spices in water. The ingredients simmering allows all of the flavors to mix in the water, creating a flavored base liquid that can be used for many recipes. Broth is liquid only, as all of the meats, bones, and vegetables are removed and strained before use. This particular liquid is not cooked for as long as stock. In addition, broth is not usually made with bone.

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Saucepan with bouillon with a ladle on the table. Bone broth
Broth is made by simmering a plethora of ingredients with water.

©Ahanov Michael/Shutterstock.com

The Texture

Due to the fact that broth is a liquid-only base, it is very thin. The vegetables and meat that are used are always strained out before it is packaged or used, therefore, it's a very thin, flavorful texture.

What is Broth Used For?

The broth is used as a base for many different recipes and dishes. This can be added to any dish for flavor, but broth has main uses in soups, gravies, sauces, and chilis. There are different types of broth as well, depending on how it's cooked and what is added to it. Many people use broth for creamy sauces to add texture, as well as soups to give it more flavor.

How to Cook Broth

To cook broth at home, you will need a few ingredients. First, you'll have to gather the meats, vegetables, and spices you are going to use in your broth. Particularly, people differentiate between chicken and beef when making broth, meaning they do not usually use both in the same broth. For spices, individuals use whatever herbs they enjoy, including salt and pepper.

Once you have all of your ingredients together, combine them in a large pot with water. Ensure that your chicken or beef is covered by water, as well as vegetables and herbs. Begin to cook the broth over medium heat on the stove. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to simmer the broth. There shouldn't be any boiling bubbles coming to the surface while simmering.

Plan to cook the broth for about 1 hour. As the broth is simmering, periodically check on it to skim the fat off of the surface. The fat will rise to the top of the chicken in the pot. Next, remove the chicken from the broth and de-bone it. You can use the chicken for another recipe, freeze it, save it, or even feed it as a snack to your dog (as long as you did not use onions in the broth, as dogs are allergic). Re-add the bones into the broth and simmer for another hour.

After the broth has been simmering for 2 hours, you can strain the vegetables, bones, and herbs from the liquid. Use a large strainer with small holes so that it can strain out everything needed. Strain as many times as needed in order to render a clear broth. Once the broth is a clear liquid, place it in a storage container and let cool before storing it in the fridge.

What is Soup?

Like broth, soup is a liquid dish that is enjoyed by many. Unlike broth, however, soup is usually a standalone dish that can be eaten on its own. Broth is used in order to make soup, but not the other way around. Soup usually has a variety of ingredients added to it and is hardly ever just a clear liquid. Many soups can be either an appetizer or even a main course, depending on the type of soup you are making.

Soup Assortment. Set of various seasonal vegetable soups and organic ingredients, banner, copy space. Homemade colorful vegan vegetarian soups.
Soup comes in several different textures.

©Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock.com

The Texture

Soup can range in texture depending on the type. There are many soups that are more watery and thinner, such as vegetable soups and even egg drop soup and wonton soup. These soups, while still having additives such as vegetables, wontons, and eggs, still remain thinner and more liquid in their texture. French onion soup happens to be a popular soup that, beneath the layer of cheese, has a thin texture. Chicken soup also has a thin texture.

There are thicker soups, as well. These are soups such as chowder, potato soup, tomato soup, and broccoli cheddar soup. The more cream that is added to a soup, the thicker the soup will be.

What is Soup Used For?

Soup is a meal in itself. It can be either an appetizer or a full-course meal, depending on how much is had and what type of soup it is. In many cultures, soup is offered as a starter. In Chinese and Italian restaurants, soups are often placed on the appetizer portion of the menu.

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Many restaurants and kitchens also offer two different sizes of soups; a cup or a bowl. If someone wants soup as a starter, they will oftentimes opt for a cup of soup, which is smaller. A bowl of soup, which is bigger, can be more filling and be a main course.

Soup is also used when people feel under the weather. As many soups are made with broths that have nutrients, they can help people recover when they are sick. In addition, the liquid base allows for hydration replacement and replenishment.

Broth vs. Soup Nutrition Comparison: Calories and What's Healthier

Chicken Broth vs Chicken Noodle Soup Calories
A nutritional comparison of chicken broth and chicken noodle soup


As you can see, chicken broth is extremely low in calories as its extremely thin, with most of its volume coming from water and a low number of calories absorbed from meat, bones, or vegetables. Meanwhile, soups like chicken noodle soup that use broth as a base will often have other ingredients like noodles and meats. This gives them significantly more calories. Soups can range from low-calorie to types that are creamy and calorie-dense.

A Quick Comparison of Broth vs. Soup

Infographic comparing broth and soup.
Broth can be consumed on its own, but it usually serves as a base for different dishes.

Broth is typically on the thin side, which allows it to easily serve as a base for a variety of recipes. Since soup is meant to be its own meal, it usually tends to be thicker than broth. There are some soups, however, that are quite thin. It all depends on the base used and the ingredients included! Broth also tends to be lower in calories, carbs, and fat compared to soup, which makes sense considering its thinness and lower number of ingredients. Some people drink broth on its own for the purported health benefits, while others choose to just stick to soup.

If you're ready to try some amazing soups, take a look at these incredible soup recipes that your family is sure to love.

Different Soup Recipes to Try

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Author: Moms Who Think
  • Yield: Serves 4



4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the pot, add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.

4. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

5. Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.

Try Home Chef - Family Meals Made Easy
  • 4-serving meals starting at $3.77 per serving (up to 25% cheaper than HelloFresh).
  • Incredible variety with 10+ weekly meal options, delivered directly to you.
  • Easy to prepare meals ready in 30-minutes or less.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

6. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.

7. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs.

8. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while.

9. Add the egg-lemon-broth mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil.

10. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


  • Serving Size: Per serving
  • Calories: 280
  • Sodium: 291mg
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Cholesterol: 139mg
To top