What are you cooking? If you need a pot that can handle the widest possible variety of kitchen tasks, experts recommend a 12-quart stockpot. This size is roomy enough for big jobs like making stock or boiling lobsters. But, if you'll only be cooking soups and stews, a smaller 6-to-8-quart pot may be easier to handle. A nonstick finish may also be helpful for a pot that will be used mainly for soups, since it helps residue come off during cleanup.
Many users also say that an oval-shaped pot is remarkably convenient for cooking corn on the cob and long pastas like spaghetti. Finally, some soup pots (often called "multi-pots") are sold with handy inserts for steaming vegetables or draining pasta.
What kind of cooktop do you have? For a smoothtop electric range, you'll want to avoid heavy, rough pots (such as cast iron) that may scratch the surface. You'll also need to make sure your soup pot has a flat bottom to make contact with the heating elements. If you have an induction cooktop, you'll need a skillet made of a magnetic material, such as stainless steel. Users do say that some stainless-steel pans don't work as well as others; test it out at the store by sticking a magnet to the bottom.
Do you clean everything in the dishwasher? Pots with a nonstick finish usually aren't dishwasher-safe, although they usually clean up fairly easily by hand. Many stainless-steel pots, by contrast, can go in the dishwasher (although experts say hand-washing will keep your cookware in better shape). You'll also need to check the size of the pot to make sure it will fit in your dishwasher.