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Mulligatawny Soup

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.

Mulligatawny soup in a bowl

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.

Ingredients for mulligatawny soup

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.

Steps to prepare mulligatawny soup

I can’t even remember the last time I made regular chicken soup.

Two bowls of mulligatawny 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.

Karen xo

Mulligatawny Soup Recipe
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4.86 from 14 votes

Mulligatawny Soup

This classic spiced chicken soup is a winter favorite — so tasty, gently spiced and ultra comforting.
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Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: British
Keyword: mulligatawny soup
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Calories: 362kcal
Author: Karen Gibson


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.

Recipe Video


Calories: 362kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Recipe Rating


Sunday 21st of November 2021

Yum! Really tasty, this is comfort food. Never having used garam masala before, I was scared after opening it . Something freaked me out, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg couldn’t figure out….anyway I decided to swap the amounts of curry powder and garam masala in the soup. Putting larger amount of curry less of gm. Sampling through the cooking process, I just wasn’t sure, but …… it really came together in the end. New fav, thanks

Dani O.

Tuesday 27th of July 2021

This sounds so delicious! Do you perhaps think it could be adapted for a crockpot or just thrown in a crockpot to cook?


Sunday 30th of May 2021

I see comments referencing lemongrass- but it is not inthe recipe above??


Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Oh, right! The current recipe here is an update reflecting how I make this soup today (and I still make it all the time). Lemongrass is easier to find now (especially in convenient paste form), but was not when I first published this recipe more than a decade though. Which is why I started making the soup for myself without the lemongrass, and decided to change the recipe to reflect that. But, if you love lemongrass like I do, use up to a tablespoon of paste, and add it to the pot with the other ground spices.


Thursday 17th of September 2020

I am a little confused about the directions. It states to coat the chicken pieces with the flour and seasonings and brown the chicken. Farther down it directs you to add the flour and spices to the pot to form a paste.

Can you clear up my confusion? Thanks.


Thursday 17th of September 2020

It's two separate processes: first the chicken is seasoned (including with flour) and browned; and then other flour and seasonings are added to the soup pot to begin the soup cooking part of the recipe. It all creates a thick, hearty texture for the soup.


Sunday 19th of July 2020

Hi just wondering if you have a recipe for the curry powder? Or can recommend a brand?


Thursday 23rd of July 2020

I don't have a recipe for a nice curry blend, but, if you're in the US, I recommend Penzey's Spices. They have several curry variations -- and I can't remember off the top of my head which one I have -- but they have high-quality spices with great flavor.