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Cooking class is never just about the recipe. The recipes included herein, have all been taught to kids with many lessons layered into the classes.  You can jump down to the Chickpea Soup Recipe, but in this post I will address the lessons taught in this class, including cooking with spices and herbs, how they are essential for flavor, the most common spices used around the world, and also the concerns when shopping the spice aisle.

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Table of Herb and Spices

Here is a list of some common spices along with their categories:

Spice CategoryCommon Spices
AllspiceAllspice berries
BerriesBlack pepper, Pink peppercorns, Juniper berries
SeedsCumin, Coriander, Mustard seeds, Fennel seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Caraway seeds, Anise seeds, Poppy seeds
PodsCardamom, Vanilla
RootsGinger, Turmeric
BulbsGarlic, Onion
HerbsBasil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, Dill, Sage, Marjoram, Mint, Cilantro, Tarragon, Chives
LeavesBay leaves, Curry leaves
PeppersBlack pepper, White pepper, Green pepper, Pink peppercorns, Long pepper, Szechuan pepper
Pods and CapsicumsChili peppers, Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Chili powder, Red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper, Pimento
Ground SpicesGround cinnamon, Ground ginger, Ground cumin, Ground coriander, Ground paprika, Ground turmeric

Great Way to Use Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs play a crucial role in enhancing the flavors of soups, transforming them from bland dishes to unique flavors. Whether you’re preparing a comforting bowl of chicken noodle soup or a hearty lentil soup, incorporating a variety of spices and herbs can add a wonderful flavor.

Dried herbs like bay leaf, thyme, and oregano are commonly used to impart earthy and herbal notes to soups. Adding these herbs at the beginning of the cooking process allows their flavors to meld with the other ingredients, infusing the soup with rich and aromatic undertones. (After cooking, it’s essential to remove whole spices and bay leaves from the soup.)

Chili powder and red pepper are essential ingredients for those who enjoy spicy foods. Just a small amount can add a kick of heat to soups, tantalizing the taste buds and providing a burst of flavor. For those seeking convenience, spice blends like curry powder and garam masala offer an easy way to add a variety of spices to soups, creating depth and complexity in flavor profiles.

Whether you’re preparing a classic tomato soup with fresh basil or experimenting with Middle Eastern flavors by adding cumin and coriander to a lentil soup, spices and herbs provide endless opportunities to create unique and delicious dishes. 

Different Spices Used Around the World

Here are some spice combinations commonly associated with various ethnic cuisines:

Indian Cuisine

  • Garam Masala (a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, and black pepper)
  • Curry Powder (typically includes turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, and other spices)
  • Tandoori Masala (a blend of spices including cumin, coriander, paprika, and ginger)

Mexican Cuisine

  • Chili Powder (typically includes ground chili peppers, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder)
  • Taco Seasoning (a blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder)
  • Adobo Seasoning (a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, and black pepper)

Italian Cuisine

  • Italian Seasoning (a blend of dried herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram)
  • Herbs de Provence (a blend of dried herbs such as thyme, fresh rosemary, oregano, and lavender)
  • Fennel Seeds (used in Italian sausage and tomato-based dishes)

Middle Eastern Cuisine

  • Za’atar (a blend of dried thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt)
  • Ras el Hanout (a Moroccan spice blend typically including cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric)
  • Baharat (a blend of black pepper, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg)

Thai Cuisine

  • Thai Curry Paste (made with a combination of fresh ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, chilies, and spices such as coriander seeds, cumin, and turmeric)
  • Tom Yum Seasoning (typically includes lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, chilies, and fish sauce)
  • Five-Spice Powder (used in some Thai dishes, typically includes star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds)

Chinese Cuisine

  • Five-Spice Powder (a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds)
  • Szechuan Peppercorns (used in Szechuan cuisine to add a numbing and spicy flavor)
  • Hoisin Sauce (a sweet and savory sauce made with soybeans, garlic, vinegar, and spices)

Spanish Cuisine

Smoked Paprika (adds a smoky flavor to dishes such as paella and chorizo)

  • Saffron (used to flavor and color dishes such as paella and Spanish rice)
  • Spanish Paprika (both sweet and spicy varieties are common, adding depth of flavor to dishes)

These spice combinations are integral to each cuisine’s flavor profile and the kids can learn that the same pot of chickpea soup can take on a whole new flavor by changing the spices.

Creating Spice Blends

In this class I had them create the spice blend for this soup. We explored various spice blends, like Ranch, Greek, Italian, and discussed various spice recipes. I will do another post on creating spice blends.

Concerns About Spices and Spice Blends

I mentioned Frontier Co-op for my culinary herbs and the good news is that they have non-GMO, non-ETO, non-irradiated, and fair trade herbs and spices.  Let’s unpack this.  

By now, most people are aware of genetically modified, but most are not aware of ETO or irradiation.  Ethylene Oxide (EtO) gas is one of the most common ways to sterilize medical devices, and it is used to sterilize the most commonly used herbs and spices. This doesn’t sound like a good choice to me, I’d prefer non-ETO.  Same with irradiation.  But I aim to educate and empower my students with the information to make their own decisions.

According to the FDA, “Food irradiation (the application of ionizing radiation to food) is a technology that improves the safety and extends the shelf life of foods by reducing or eliminating microorganisms and insects. Like pasteurizing milk and canning fruits and vegetables, irradiation can make food safer for the consumer.”

Additionally, fillers and extenders can be used. They are just what they sound like. Fillers and extenders can be flour, cornstarch, or even saw dust. This is why I choose organic, non-GMO, non-ETO, non-irradiated spices from Frontier Co-op that are fair trade, so that the farmers are paid fair wages.

​Cooking Class Lessons

It starts with a lesson plan, next comes the recipe, which is one of my favorite ways to teach.  If you want a peek inside of class, the kids come in and start with the recipe, at the end of the cooking process we review the lessons for the class. We have plenty of time in each class to discuss the many lessons planned. 

This chickpea soup recipe was used in class to teach different herbs and spices along with the use of plant-based protein, choices for broth, and practicing knife skills with chopping vegetables.  This soup was a big hit. Enjoy!

Chickpea Soup

Chickpea soup recipe using a variety of spices, teaching kids how to cook wtih spices and herbs.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4


  • Bowl
  • Large Pot



  • 6 c Vegetable broth
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 3 t Garlic, minced
  • 3 Carrots
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 2 Sweet potatoes
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 can tomatoes, 28 oz
  • 1 can chickpeas, 14 oz
  • 1.5 T Spice mix
  • 2 t Salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 2 c Baby spinach, optional

Spice Blend (Makes ½ cup)

  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Mix up the spice blend and store in a mason jar.
  • Chop the onions, pepper, carrots, sweet potatoes, and celery.
  • In a large pot, add the olive oil and the chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute for about 4 minutes.
  • Add the chopped veggies and can of diced tomatoes.
  • Add the spice mix along with the additional salt and pepper called for in the recipe.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  • While the soup simmers, drain the chickpeas and add to soup pot.
  • Toss in some spinach (optional)
  • Serve!



This recipe was used to teach kids how to cook with spices and herbs.  In this class, we mixed up our spice blend while also discussing how the same soup could have a vastly different flavor by changing the spices.  Get creative with your kids. Have them read the spice bottles, smell them, and experiment with them.
How to make a creamy soup without dairy: use an immersion blender and blend up some of the chickpeas and it will make the soup creamy without adding any dairy!


Serving: 2cupsCalories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 6gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 2825mgPotassium: 1185mgFiber: 11gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 28980IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 192mgIron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soup
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

How to Store Spices and Herbs

Storing spices and herbs properly is key to preserving their flavor and potency. Keeping them in airtight containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight helps maintain their freshness.

Soup is a family-friendly meal, check out this Cheeseburger Soup recipe, or this Lentil Soup recipe.

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About Lisa Jendza

Cooking is the competitive advantage for your child. As a former IT Consultant turned health coach my classes are an experiential process to teach critical thinking. The courage, confidence and creativity derived from my classes will impact all areas of their life. Freedom begins and ends in the kitchen.