When To Use Stock Or Water In Soups, According To Reddit

Everyone's been in that situation where you're halfway through making a soup when you realize that the recipe calls for stock. Unless you're someone that thinks of stock as a pantry staple or collects vegetable scraps each week to make your own batch of stock at home, you don't have any on hand. Now while you could look for substitutes or run to the grocery store, there's another handy solution –– water.

But how can the two be interchangeable? Many chefs swear by stock as essential to one's soup. For instance, Chef Thomas Keller told MasterClass that stock is "the base for everything else that you're going to do." The fixture is made by simmering vegetables, meat, and bones with herbs and spices in water for several hours. So when a soup calls for stock, it means that the recipe depends on the liquid to work as a flavorful base that you can then build your soup on.

How could water possibly replicate the layers of flavor that are packed into a stock? Reddit, it turns out, has a similar question. Taking to the social media platform, a Redditor posed a question to fellow cooks: "I frequently encounter recipes that say you can use stock or water. Is there ever a situation where water is the better option?" As always, Redditors have several opinions on the matter.

It all depends on the flavor you want the soup to have

The fact that stock adds flavor says one Redditor, is precisely why flavorless water can sometimes be better: "During the colder months I made quite a few puréed soups. I noticed that eventually a lot of soups started to taste similar because I used the same stock cubes in all of them." While the stock is meant to add flavor to your dish, the stock has its own inherent flavor (via MasterClass). This means that everything that you add the stock in will eventually taste similar, and you may find your soup tasting suspiciously similar to the pasta sauce you made last week. As one comment says, "stock doesn't just increase the flavor of the dish, it adds the flavor of the stock."

Using water allows your soup's ingredients to stand on their own. This is why Redditors find that it's best to stick to water and then use spices and other ingredients to flavor. One comment even points out that it's the norm in French and Indian preparations to use water rather than stock. These nations' cuisines use different spice blends to flavor dishes as mildly or boldly as they want.

Some Redditors do agree that sometimes, you do want the concentrated flavor of stock. But if you want the best of both worlds, comments suggest mixing stock pastes and powders with water rather than preportioned stock cubes for more control over your soup.