What Are Soups, Stock, Broths And Stews?

Is it just semantics or is there a real difference between soups, broths, stews and stocks? If you do a search online you will find a lot of conflicting definitions and see that the terms are used interchangeably.

So I am going to throw in my two cents too. 🙂

I believe it is all about the desired outcome.


For me, stock is an ingredient of broths, soups and stews.

I keep my vegetable stock very simple. It is basically the holy trinity (celery, carrot and onion) in water cooked on low heat overnight. I make chicken, beef, lamb and rabbit stock by also adding their bones and scrap meat.

Hot tips:

  • Always start with room temperature water as hot/boiling water traps the flavours in the vegetables, we want the opposite affect.
  • Make stock in large batches and freeze it for future use. For examples see my  Slow Cooker Chicken Stock or Rabbit Stock.
Frozen rabbit stock

I might then take a stock and build flavours on top, generally by the use of additional vegetables, herbs and spices. If I am using a vegetable stock I might add bones too.

I don’t cook it for long and it is for immediate use. After straining you could eat it right away.

South-east Asian styled bone broth

I then take stock or broth and add ingredients (sometimes separately cooked) like meat, pasta, noodles, potato and then garnish with fresh vegetables. As a rule of thumb you need a bowl and a spoon.

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Pho Ga
Rabbit soup
Stews and casseroles

For me, a stew is something you can eat off a plate and generally has little sauce. It is as much about the method of cooking ie stewing the meat in juices, as any other characteristic.

We generally use casserole and stew interchangeably in Australia.

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Coq au vin



Here are some more cooking techniques:

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