The best chicken soup ever, Mulligatawny soup is a British-Indian fusion of bold and delightful curry spices in a rich and creamy coconut milk soup base. Packed with curried chicken and rice, it’s a meal-worthy soup that the family will love! This post has been updated with new photos and a streamlined, better-than-ever recipe.
Meet my favorite chicken soup in the entire world. Yes, the tippity-top pick. The chicken soup I would pick if forced to chose just one to eat for the rest of my life.
This is the one: Mulligatawny soup. If you’ve never had it before, be prepared to have your soup world rocked.
A soup with a sketchy and largely unconfirmed history, mulligatawny is pure comfort food, full of flavor, both exotic and familiar at the same time. Literally “pepper water,” mulligatawny is sometimes credited to Indian cuisine, but more likely was created by the Brits, who love curries more than meat pies, bless their little stringy-meat lovin’ hearts.
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, and flavors up mulligatawny soup beautifully — no heat, just boldly spiced.
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 small/medium onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (mild or hot, your choice)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 sweet-tart apple (such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, peeled)
- 14 ounce can coconut milk, well shaken
- 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 shimmering, add onions, celery and carrots. Saute until soft. Add garlic and saute, stirring until fragrant (just a minute or so).
- 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 to bloom the spices. Add a small amount of the chicken stock and stir to smooth out any lumps formed by the roux.
- Tip the remaining chicken stock into the pot and turn heat to medium-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 directly over the soup (to catch all the juices, too) 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. Let heat through, and do one final tasting, adding salt and pepper to suit.
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