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. Many people use both words and items frequently but don't necessarily know the key differences behind the food items. Broth and soup, while both liquid, have distinct differences in their makeup and use.

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.

Saucepan with bouillon with a ladle on the table. Bone broth
Broth is made by simmering a plethora of ingredients with water.

©Ahanov Michael/

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/

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.

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.

Different Soup Recipes to Try

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