If you enjoy Middle Eastern dishes, Latin American dishes, Barbecue, Chili, Indian dishes, or North African dishes, you likely have an affinity for cumin whether you like it or not. You can even find it in our Southwestern Chicken Chili. While cumin is a popular spice added to all of these different types of cuisines, it’s also common in homemade soups as well. This spice is made from the dried seed of the Cuminum Cyminum plant, a cousin to Parsley, and is often a warm light brown in color. The seeds are ground to create the spice we know as cumin.
Cumin is an ancient spice. It’s been found in Syrian and Egyptian excavations dating back more than 4,000 years, where it was used as both a spice and as a preservative ingredient. Not all cumin is ground, and whole cumin is a popular ingredient in Indian and Indian inspired dishes where it is typically roasted or cooked in hot oil.
What Does Cumin Taste Like?
It’s likely most people are familiar with the flavor of cumin whether they realize it or not. The main flavor notes in cumin are warm and earthy, but there is an underlying bittersweet note in cumin as well. Seeds are roasted to bring out the most flavor from cumin, and then they may be incorporated whole into a dish or ground to form the cumin spice that is most often used in a variety of dishes.
In homemade soups, cumin can really ground a dish. It provides that touch of warm spice to balance out thyme, oregano, mint, or cilantro freshness, or it can work as a boost to other warmer spices like nutmeg, clove, or allspice.
When cumin is used in homemade soups or any sort of dish, it’s most often added into the dish early on in the preparation. In a broth, time gives cumin an opportunity to spread and develop, so you get the absolute maximum out of its rich and earthy flavor. The earlier on cumin is added to a soup, stew, or other dish, the more cumin flavor you’ll be able to enjoy as the dish goes on its journey from ingredients to a hot and delicious meal.
Cumin is a good friend of ours at the SoLé Soup Studio. A good bowl of homemade soup is comforting to start, but cumin works magic into the soup to create a meal that is more like a warm hug!