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Are you trying to select a pot to make soup? If so, you might be wondering what the best piece of cookware is to get the job done. There are a few simple things to consider to help you take the guesswork out of choosing a soup pot; we've pulled together the research to help you out.
A soup pot is best if you are making a soup containing thickening agents in addition to the broth. A "soup pot" is a stock pot with a thick metal base that distributes heat evenly. The best type of pot for making a watery stock or a broth is a traditional stock pot. Traditional stock pots have thin walls and a thin base. Those features allow heat to be transferred from the source more quickly and directly. Direct heat facilitates a rapid rolling boil.
Do you have more questions about typical soup pots? You're not alone. Keep reading below to find out more about the proper pots for making soup. We'll also discuss other common questions and even include some tasty recipes. Be sure to keep reading!
Are Stock Pots and "Soup Pots" Interchangeable?
Manufacturers commonly construct soup and stock pots from different types of metal. Stainless steel, copper, and aluminum make up the bulk of the more common pots on the market. A traditional stock pot might be likely to be constructed of aluminum or thin stainless steel because of its ability to transfer heat rapidly.
A basic soup pot, on the other hand, is likely to be thicker polished stainless steel or even cast iron with an enamel glaze. There are a vast array of alloys and construction techniques for soup pots. The metal that makes up the pot, like the thickness of the base of the pot, in the end, affects the way the cookware transfers heat from the source to the food. The soup turns out differently depending in part on the materials that went into making the pot to begin with.
Traditional stock pots can be used to make soup. Similarly, soup pots, like the one below, can be used to make stock.
While both pots are excellent, there are real advantages to one or the other depending on what recipe you are trying to create. Let's discuss some important tips to help you decide what type of pot is preferable for the meal you want to prepare.
Finding The Right Pot For Your Soup Dish
A pot with a thick base is better for recipes that call for cooking ingredients in the pot before adding the liquid. A thick-based soup pot delivers evenly distributed heat in a slower more controlled way than a stock pot can. With more control, you will have an easier time achieving the desired degree of doneness in your chunky ingredients.
For example, searing meat without burning it for a beef stew is a difficult prospect in the bottom of a stock pot. On the other hand, it is easy to achieve a uniform sear in the bottom of a soup pot.
Likewise, if the base of your pot is thin and you need to create a rue for gumbo or a cheese-based soup, you will find it hard to not burn your flour and butter. When you are trying to achieve that perfect toasty brown, it is much easier to accomplish it in a pot with a thicker base. If you observe what happens when you try, you will notice that the center of a stock pot, directly over the heat source, quickly becomes smoking hot while the edges remain almost cold.
Noodles and Cream
This heat differential is also not ideal for soups that are developed from milk or cream. In a thin-based stock pot, dairy products have a tendency to scorch and stick to the metal directly over the heat source, even if the heat is kept relatively low. Starchy ingredients like noodles and dumplings also have a higher chance of sticking to the bottom of a stock pot than they do to a proper soup pot.
Asian noodle Soups
Many soup recipes are created sequentially in the same cookware by adding ingredients over time as the recipe progresses. However, there are many approaches to soup that call for cooking the solid and the liquid ingredients separately. These are then brought together just before they are served.
Take, for example, the ubiquitous block of ramen noodles and MSG powder that most of us think of as a cheap, if bland, meal. Instant Ramen is actually an unfortunate descendant of a highly technical Asian recipe. Unlike its inferior younger cousin, authentic Ramen requires at least two pots to make.
Done traditionally, a stock or broth is created by bringing together spices and other ingredients in a proportionally high volume of water. It is all boiled together until the flavors and aromas from the solid ingredients are infused into the hot water like a giant cup of savory tea.
Want to know more about the different types of Asian noodles? Check out this post: 13 Types Of Asian Noodles You Should Know
Just the Broth
Just like with tea, the solids from this process are generally discarded and not consumed with the liquid. Recipes for Vietnamese Pho and Wonton soup use this same general approach. Such recipes call for adding all of the other ingredients including noodles, dumplings, meat, and/or vegetables to the serving bowl with the broth-- not to the stock pot.
This two-step or two-pot approach is done so that the flavors of some ingredients remain entirely distinct from the flavor profile of the broth created in the stock pot.
A Two Pot Approach
A stock pot, rather than a "soup pot," is a better piece of equipment for the job of creating Asian noodle soups. The highly focused heat in the middle of the thin bottom of a stock pot effectively accomplishes the quick breakdown of ingredients. That high heat breakdown transfers flavor from the solids to the liquid better than a more even heat distribution would.
There are other factors besides the thickness of the bottom of the pot that affect the way that a soup or a stock pot conducts heat and cooks. The actual metal that a soup or stock pot is made from also influences the way it cooks.
How do you pick a stock pot?
For a stock pot, choose something with a thin wall and base with sturdy metal handles near the top of the pot The top of the lid should also have a handle that rises high enough for you to grasp it without touching the top of the lid.
These types of pots are available with or without an enamel coating and both types work well. It should be said, though, that some of those without a protective enamel coating can stain and discolor. This happens over time depending on what they are used for and how often.
For more on stock pots, check out this post: What’s The Best Material For Stock Pots? [Know Before You Buy!]
How big of a soup pot (Quarts) do I need?
The size of pot you need primarily depends on how much soup you want to make. If you are making only a small amount, you may choose a smaller pot. Some recipes call for making stock out of bones or whole chickens or large chunks of root vegetables. In these cases, a large stock pot won't necessarily equate to a large quantity of finished stock.
Another consideration is that large stock pots full of boiling liquid can be heavy and difficult to safely move. Be conscious of safety and choose something that you can comfortably manage when full.
What can I use instead of a stock pot?
If you don't have a designated stock pot, a thick-bottomed soup pot will do fine for making stock. Likewise, a dutch oven or even a stainless steel teapot will work if you are only making a small batch.
How do you use an instant pot for making soup?
If you have an Instant Pot or another pressure cooker, making broth stocks and soups becomes a simpler endeavor. Stocks that would normally take hours to develop can be finished in a fraction of the time. Simple and practical one pot soups like this one below become a breeze:
What is a one pot soup?
"One pot" soups are recipes where all of the ingredients are cooked in the same vessel and simmered together. In these recipes, all of the flavors mix together through the cooking process. Some examples of this are:
There are few meals as comforting as a good clam chowder, chicken noodle soup, or shrimp gumbo. It is true that stock pots and soup pots are somewhat interchangeable. However, in many cases, the differences in how they are constructed and cook food can make a lot of difference. When you know those subtle and nuanced differences, you will find it much easier to reproduce that beloved family recipe. Good luck and Bon Apetit!