Mulligatawny is a wonderfully tasty and complex soup that’s India-inspired and weeknight easy. Try it, and see if it doesn’t become your favorite soup this winter!
Meet my favorite chicken soup in the entire world.
I first wrote about mulligatawny a few years back, when I was still getting a grip on this incredible dish, tweaking the ingredients to find just the right flavor profile and to streamlilne the process.
Since then, I’ve made this soup so frequently that the recipe is muscle memory at this point. Good thing, too, because my sole printed copy that documents my experiments is now wrinkly with chicken stock stains and covered with fading, smudgy pencil scribbles that I can barely read.
As a soup aficionado, this version is worth sharing anew: so simple, economical, and on the table in way under an hour.
A soup with a sketchy and largely unconfirmed history — is it Indian? is it British? Depends on whom you ask! — mulligatawny is comfort food, full of flavor, both exotic and familiar at the same time. The spices called for are readily available in American grocery stores, and if you’re a DIY spice blend maker like I am, try my homemade garam masala. It’s da bomb.
I can’t even remember the last time I made regular chicken soup.
Oh, and mulligatawny soup not only keeps well, but it tastes even better after an overnight stay in the refrigerator. Double the recipe and freeze some for those snowy days ahead when you need a warm soup hug now.
For the chicken
- 1 pound boneless chicken, breast or thighs, your choice, sliced into short, thin strips
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon flour
For the soup
- 3 tablespoons olive or coconut oil, divided usage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, mild or hot, your choice
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (quick cooking is fine)
- 1 tart apple such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled and cored
- 1 can coconut milk, well shaken (about 14 oz)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 4-5 qt stock pot or dutch oven over medium until shimmering.
- Toss chicken pieces with the seasonings and flour and add to pot. Brown chicken on all sides — cooking through completely — and remove to a plate or bowl and set aside.
- Add another 1 tablespoon oil to pot (still on medium heat). When melted and shimmering, add onions, celery and carrots. Saute until soft. Add garlic and saute, stirring until fragrant (just a minute or two).
- Push the vegetables to one side, and add the remaining tablespoon of oil in the bare spot, heating briefly. Sprinkle the garam masala, curry powder, flour and a generous pinch of salt over the oil and stir to form a fragrant paste, then mix in with the vegetables, cooking briefly. Add a small amount of the chicken stock and stir to smooth out any clumps formed by the roux.
- Pour the remaining chicken stock in the pot and turn heat to high. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, add the rice, and reduce heat back to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and to cook for 15 minutes. Grate the apple over the soup (to catch the juices) and stir in the reserved chicken. Cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and add salt as necessary.
- Turn heat to low and add coconut milk, stirring to mix thoroughly. Heat for 5 minutes more, and do one final tasting, adding salt and pepper to suit.