You’re in the market for a new pot that is versatile and that can help you take your cooking to the next level.
You’ve been doing some research into new pots, and you have come across a problem: Soup pots and stock pots—what’s the difference, why are they called different things when they look the same, and is soup and stock so different that you need different pots to cook them in?
Well, that’s a lot of questions about pots! I will do my best to answer all of your pot-related questions below.
Just before we dive into the soup pot vs. stock pot debate, I want to say your choice may not matter as much as the internet makes out it will.
I know—shock horror! The internet is worrying about pots rather more than it needs to.
If you’re making a lot of stock, then of course a purpose-built pot for stock will serve you well for this task as it has been designed for making stock. Also, if you plan on batching out lots of soup, then a soup pot will work well for you.
If you are simply in the market for a big ole pot that is going to serve double duty and allow you to make stock, soups, stews, chilli and more, the differences between a stock pot and a soup pot may not be too critical.
Anyway, let’s take a closer look at soup pots and stock pots and see what the differences are and which pot you should consider buying depending on the cooking tasks you want to use the pot for, shall we?
What is a stock pot?
A stock pot can be used to make both stock and soup. They can also be used to make things like stews, chillis and similar dishes.
Basically, a stock pot has a fairly thin base. They are designed to have a thin base, so this isn’t because they’re not well made. The thin base ensures that stock comes to the boil quickly and the heat from the hob is distributed around the pot evenly.
Stock pots are made from a lot of different materials like stainless steel, copper and aluminium. Which material is best depends on what kind of cooking you want to do and your budget.
What is a soup pot?
A soup pot is very similar in size and shape to a stock pot.
The main difference between a soup pot and stock is that a soup pot has a heavier base. This is because there isn’t typically as much liquid to heat up when making soup as when making stock.
The contents you’re heating up in a soup pot tends to be a lot thicker, so you need to have a lot of heat held in the base for more time to heat up the liquid.
Again, soup pots can easily be used for stews and chillis too. If you’re considering using a stock pot or a soup pot as a replacement for a Dutch oven, a soup pot would be the better way to go as the bases are similar and so they can perform similar functions.
Can you use a stock pot to make soup?
You can use a stock pot to make soup, yes. And you can use a soup pot to make stock too.
The biggest deciding factor when choosing between a stock pot and a soup pot is which task you will use the pot for most.
As I said above, both of these pots can be used for soups, stews and everything else. So, you need to decide: do you want to make stock or soup more?
Once you have decided that, you can then look at stock pots and soup pots, the different materials they are made from and the perfect pot in your budget.
What is a good size for a soup pot?
The size of a good soup pot really depends on how much soup you want to make.
If, for example, you are batching out soup to freeze, you’ll want a bigger pot so that you can make all of this soup in one batch.
However, if you are a couple and intend on using your soup pot to make soup for a winter’s night or a stew, for example, perhaps a small soup pot will be better for you.
Here is a breakdown of some size options available for soup pots and my take on them:
- 5 to 5.5 litres: A soup pot of this size will be great for most tasks, but a bit small for batches of soup.
- 5 to 7 litres: Anything up to 7 litres is great for poaching a chicken, but for large quantities of stock or soup, this again can be bit restricting.
- 10+ litres: Anything 10 litres and above is about perfect for soups, poaching chickens and enough chilli to feed an army (well, a family!)
Soup and stock pot materials
While we’re discussing sizes of soup and stock pots, I think it would be good to tackle materials too. There are many different materials that a stock and soup pot can be made from.
Now, material options depend partially on your budget, but here is a quick breakdown of the materials and the quality of each:
- Aluminium: Heats quickly, typically one of the cheapest options, but it isn’t as hardy as some other materials
- Stainless steel: Lightweight, heats rapidly and evenly, one of the cheapest too.
- Coated carbon steel: Typically middle-of-the-range pricing, coatings can peel and discolour, but do work well for many years.
- Stainless steel with copper or aluminium bottom: Rapid heating, best of both worlds, non-stick and quick heating. In the medium price bracket too.
- Copper: Lovely look, heats very quickly, pretty expensive for the real deal.
Can you use a Dutch oven as a stock pot?
In the case of these pots, I think there is a clear difference between these pots.
Firstly, a Dutch oven is short and stocky and can be used on the hob or in the oven. They are designed for braising meat and creating beautiful stews and things like that.
Stock pots, on the other hand, are much taller, which means that more of the liquid is in contact with the pot. As the pot heats up, so does the liquid.
So, stock pots are fantastic at bringing water and other liquids to the boil quickly. Dutch ovens aren’t too good at that, but are fantastic for slow cooking pretty much anything.
The question of whether you should invest in a stock pot or a Dutch oven depends on your personal needs and taste. These pots are very different and should be treated as such.
Most keen home cooks will know that both pots can provide a lot to their cooking and having both a Dutch oven and stock or soup pot is probably the way to go. A Dutch oven and a stock pot offer different ways of cooking and can be used together to create some stunning meals.
Right, I think I’m going to take myself out of the Dutch oven vs. stock pot debate before I make anyone angry! I hope this look at stock pots, soup pots and the brief discussion of Dutch ovens has helped you decide which type of pot you should buy for your kitchen.
Buying one of these pots is a fantastic way of adding a great tool to your kitchen arsenal, you just have to decide which pot is better for the type of cooking you do.
Once you know which type of pot you want, check out our lists of the best stock pots, soup pots and Dutch ovens to decide which to buy.