Soup, Broth, Stock- What’s the Difference?

Broths and Soups are both great ways to get more nutrition and vegetables into your diet. They are both comfort foods enjoyed throughout the world by many different cultures. Although the terms broth, soup, and stock are often used synonymously and have many similarities, they do have differences. We’ll dive into what makes each food unique below.

Key Differences Between Broth vs Soup

The main difference between broth and soup is that a broth results from the liquid strained from simmering vegetables, meat, and/or bones. Broth can be used in making soup but does not have to be used. Soup also contains vegetables and/or meat that give it texture and flavor.

Key Differences Between Broth vs Stock

The main difference between broth vs stock is that a true stock is made from simmering animal bones and vegetables and then straining the liquid out. A plain broth is a watery liquid made from simmering meat and/or vegetables in water and often herbs and spices as well. Broth is typically more complex in flavor, while stock is richer in collagen.

Key Differences Between Stock vs Soup

The main difference between stock vs soup is that stock is the liquid from simmering vegetables and animal bones. Stock is going to be rich in collagen and gelatin. Stock can be used as a soup base. Soup also contains vegetables and/or meat, giving it texture and flavor.

What is Broth?

There are various types of broths, such a vegetable broth, animal broth such as chicken broth, and bone broth. Bone broth is actually the same as stock- confusing, I know. We’ll get into the bone broth and stock below.

Animal broth and vegetable broth result from simmering water with their respective ingredients, animal meat and/or vegetables, for about an hour. The flavorful liquid is strained out from the ingredients, which is the broth. Additional herbs and spices, such as bay leaves, may be used to give the broth a complex, rich flavor.

Broths make a great base for soups such as chicken soup. You can use broth as a cooking liquid to make rice or pasta, like water. Broths can also be added to sauces and gravies to help add a richer flavor.

What is Stock (Also Known as Bone Broth)?

Traditional stock, such as chicken stock, has become well known as bone broth. The term “bone broth” has become popular in the wellness world as a way to distinguish broth made from bones vs broth made from animal meat, such as chicken meat. The major difference that sets stock/bone broth apart from a plain broth is the collagen-rich gelatin extracted from simmering the animal bones or bone marrow for a long time, such as 12+ hours.

Stock came to be as a way to use up vegetable scraps, meat bones, and any leftover meat scraps, so nothing went to waste. Anything left went into a pot of water to make a flavorful stock. This homemade stock was then used as a base for soups, stews, and many other dishes.

While some may refer to vegetable broth as vegetable stock or vegetarian stock, they really are essentially the same- which is a vegetable broth. Stocks typically include the simmering of bones and simmer for a longer period of time than a broth.

What is Soup?

A soup can be any sort of combination or mixture of liquid and vegetables and/or meat. Think chicken noodle soup, butternut squash soup, Gazpacho, tortilla soup, and thousands of others. Almost every culture seems to have different flavors and types of soups they enjoy. Soups can be a thin soup or thicker soup; they can be blended smooth or chunky. They can be served as a hot soup or cold soup.

Health Benefits

Broth

Animal broths such as chicken broth may offer protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals such as iron and selenium, along with several others- depending on what ingredients are used. Vegetable broths will likely have far less protein, depending on what vegetables are used.

It’s important to note that some broths, particularly those that are shelf-stable in the grocery store, may contain excessive amounts of sodium- so make sure to check the ingredient labels as too much salt isn’t good for you.

Broths may help support weight management. Chicken broth has also been known to support the immune system in fighting common ailments such as the flu, sore throats, and colds. Broth also makes great comfort food if you aren’t feeling well.

Soup

The health benefits of soup will vary based on the ingredients used and how it is cooked. Many soups use vegetables to some degree, and we know vegetables are full of vitamins and nutrients. Many of the meats used in making soup will be full of protein and essential amino acids. To make a healthy soup, focus on using a variety of vegetables, herbs, plant-based ingredients such as lentils and/or quality meats. Avoid excess salt, sugars, or processed ingredients.

Bone Broth/Stock

Bone broth/stock has been used for generations to maintain a healthy gut and support the immune system. The most significant difference nutritionally between a plain broth and bone broth/stock is that a stock will be filled with more collagen-rich protein extracted from the bones. It may also contain more vitamins and minerals since the vegetables and ingredients are being simmered for a longer time than a plain broth.

Drinking bone broth has been touted as an excellent way to support joint and gut health in the wellness community. The collagen-rich gelatin found in bone broth helps support gut health, reduce inflammation, support joins, and heal a leaky gut.

Using Bouillon Cubes

Bouillon cubes are small cubes of dehydrated chicken stock or broth made in a cube form. Bouillon cubes are typically highly processed and contain a high amount of salt or sodium and other additives. A healthier option when making soup is to use a broth or chicken base.

Key Takeaways

Broths can be used in making delicious homemade soups. There are a wide variety of different types of soups, depending on the culture and ingredients used. Stick to plant-based ingredients and quality meats for the healthiest broths and soups.

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Author Biography

Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about finding freedom with food here.