When you're making chicken soup, what do you add? Stock or broth? The stock vs broth debate leads many to ask the question, so what's the difference? They are right next to each other in the supermarket, look similar and do similar things. 

It turns out that the difference is actually quite small and even the top chefs use them interchangeably. So you don't have to stress over which carton to choose at the supermarket.

So, what is the difference?

Helena Lin

According to Alton Brown, it all has to do with what goes into the boiling water. Both recipes for chicken stock and chicken broth call for water, spices, mirepoix (celery, carrots and onions) and parts of a chicken.

The difference boils down (haha, get it?) to which part of the chicken is put into the pot. The stock recipe calls for chicken bones, while the broth recipe calls for a whole chicken. This means that stock generally calls for more bones and less meat, while broths have more meat and less bones.

What does this mean for vegetarian stocks and broths?

vegetable, onion, carrot, pepper, celery, saute
Kathleen Lee

Those definitions leave vegetarians out in the cold. Since vegetables have no bones or meat (duh!), we just have to agree to call the flavorful liquid resulting from simmering an assortment together a "broth" or a "stock" for simplicity's sake.

And if you go to grocery stores or look through cookbooks, you will find stock and broth being used interchangeably. This recipe will give you a basic and no-frills vegetable "stock."

What's the flavor difference between stock and broth?

soup, broth, vegetable, chicken, parsley
Jocelyn Hsu

According to The Kitchn stocks have a richer and deeper flavor due to the bones, while broths have less body. They also argue that a "stock is a liquid that is left unseasoned for cooking with. But broth is usually seasoned and can be drunk or eaten on its own."

What are the uses of stocks and broths?

vegetable, corn, pepper
Kaley French

Even though there are differences between stocks and broths, they are used in place of one another in the culinary world. The best recipes for stocks and broths are chicken soup, risotto and braised chicken.

So now you know the answer to the age old question, "stock vs broth?" Although the differences aren't as clear cut as one would hope. The only thing I know for certain, however, is that you can make some damn good meals out of stock and broth.