A program of the TBA-ISD Career-Tech Center in collaboration with the National Writers Series

A program of the TBA-ISD Career-Tech Center in collaboration with the National Writers Series

A program of the TBA-ISD Career-Tech Center in collaboration with the National Writers Series

How To Determine Whether a Substance is a Sauce or a Soup- Rowan Schultz


A brief piece of analytical and extraordinarily logical text designed to combat one of the great conundrums of our age.


Back in the wonderful days of middle school, when class started at 8:15 a.m. and each period was only 45 minutes long, my good friend and I started to have a very off-topic yet interesting conversation regarding the qualities that make a sauce a sauce and a soup a soup. For the life of me I am unable to remember the circumstances in which this conversation first surfaced, but for some reason, I feel like it would be necessary for us to be eating either a sauce or a soup when the conversation began, otherwise it would be a very clear indicator that we had way too much time on our hands. In this article, I will go over the finer points of deciding whether a substance or dish contains a sauce or a soup, as well as trying to fill the reader in on any gray areas there may be. 


In the case of a noodle dish often served with as sauce, the sauce is only classified as such if the levels of sauce are at or below 49 percent, and the level of other foods is at or above 51 percent. Therefore, if one is consuming a noodle dish with 40 percent sauce and 60 percent noodles, it becomes a soup if the level of noodles drops below the level of the sauce. If a food has some type of liquid in it that is classified as a broth, the broth can never be considered a sauce because the consistency is too close to that of water. However, if the food had a broth in it at one point, but the three or more other ingredients were blended together with the broth to form a sort of paste, it is then considered a cohesive whole, and being that such things are normally pretty thick, it is therefore a sauce. In the event that a filler/starch is added to a sauce that falls into this category, the same 51 to 49 percent rule applies when determining whether it is a sauce or a soup. 

Soy sauce, however, is an entirely different matter. This is a substance that is branded as a sauce, and is too strong to eat as a soup. Many people would debate this, but the large quantities of soy sauce required to make a decent soup could very well be dangerous to the consumer, and so I as the author of this article cannot endorse any soup of this type because frankly, I don’t think I could deal with a lawsuit for physical damages. There is only one loophole to the soy sauce rule. If you have a small amount of soy sauce, and an even smaller amount of leftover sushi rice floating in said soy sauce, that makes it a soup. For the most part, the matter of soy sauce can be left up for discussion, but anybody who uses large quantities of it an attempt to prove that it can be used for a soup of average mass and volume will probably have a heart attack, or some other type of medical emergency.

Cranberry sauce is a different matter altogether. For one, the homemade kind is almost always a soup, if you are going by the 49-51 percent rule outlined earlier. The problem is that the canned cranberry “sauce” is a spread at best, and in the official ruling of sauce vs. soup it is stated that “cranberry sauce” of the canned variety cannot be considered a sauce or a soup due to insufficient amount of liquid in the substance. It has also been decided that whoever decided to brand the weird canned cran­berries as a sauce was either severely delirious from lack of sleep, or had constant compulsory urges to eat the psychedelic mushrooms that tend to grow on rotting coffee grounds. As a closing statement to the cranberry sauce section of this article, I would like to mention that there are two types of people who buy and or eat canned cranberry sauce: either those who buy it for tradition, or those who frantically search for it in the off-season.

Finally, I would like to conclude this article with a small quantity of extremely progressive insights that contribute greatly to the sauce-and-soup conundrum. To begin, every sauce can be a soup, but not every soup can be a sauce. This is the same principle that is true of rectangles and squares. Sauces, though they are much thicker in consistency, are often an accessory, lending themselves to more culinary versatility. Second, the density of substances must be taken into account when transforming something from a soup to a sauce. As I previously stated, if something is classified unanimously by the diners as broth, it will never be classified as a sauce. When dealing with broth, anything below or equal the density of Swanson brand chicken broth is automatically broth. Anything classified as a broth by a cook, but does not fall under the Swanson rule must be evaluated and voted upon by those consuming the dish. In closing, I would like to state that this discussion regarding sauce and soup is not officially closed, for there is much evaluation that still needs to be completed prior to the classification and rulings pertaining to the many sauces or soups that people will encounter in their everyday life.