Cardamom comes in two basic varieties – black and green. Green cardamom is the more common of the two, and the one that is most often spotted in grocery store spice aisles around Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks. Green cardamom is commonly found not just in homemade soups, but in various staples of Nordic and Middle Eastern cuisines. Black cardamom, while not as common as green cardamom, is not rare either. It’s grown in the eastern Himalaya mountains and can often be found in Indian cuisine.

Cardamom, no matter the color, comes from seed pods of the ginger family. Not only the seeds are used, but the entire pod may be ground and used to make cardamom powder. Cardamom may be used in savory dishes like homemade soups, or sweet recipes like a fresh, sweet, and spicy cup of chai tea.

Using Cardamom

Cardamom may be used ground into a cardamom powder or whole. When using whole cardamom, the entire seed pod is placed in a dish like a soup and allowed to simmer in order to extract the maximum amount of flavor. Once the dish is ready for serving, the whole seed pod is removed and discarded. Whole cardamom is typically regarded to be more flavorful than ground cardamom, but sometimes more of a challenge to use or obtain.

Whether you’re creating savory or sweet dishes, cardamom always has something to add.

The Flavor Of Cardamom

Cardamom has a distinct and bold flavor that works just as well in soup as it does coffee, tea, or desserts. Green cardamom will have a bold and sweet flavor with light notes of citrus and just a touch of sharp mint. The aroma matches the flavor and is often able to be picked out immediately in a dish. Black cardamom has a similar flavor profile as green cardamom, but often with a smokey note and a little added minty sharpness. The flavor of black cardamom goes particularly well with bitter greens like kale, dandelion, and arugula.

We at the SoLé Soup Studio love incorporating cardamom into our homemade soups, like our Carrot-Ginger, simply due to the versatility of the spice. It can balance out fresh bitter greens, it can add bold earthy sweetness to spices like clove and nutmeg, and it knows how to play well with just about any fresh ingredients!