This recipe for mulligatawny soup is easy, versatile, and bursting with the flavors of India. It features a menagerie of deep, smoky, warming spices with tender sauteed vegetables and apples in a velvety coconut infused broth. It’s also easily customized to be vegetarian or include meat.
Soup recipes are some of my favorites to master and share, and today I have a gem for you. Mulligatawny soup is an Indian inspired dish with the perfect balance of savory spice. It’s brimming with warming aromatic spices like cumin, turmeric, garlic, ginger and more. A mix of fresh vegetables and apples are delicately sauteed before being pureed into a silky smooth broth. We add a dash of flour, some basmati rice, and voila — a sensational soup is born.
I first tasted this soup years ago at a restaurant called Bombay in San Diego. It was heavenly and so exotic in flavor. When I went to India and travelled through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambore, it was no where to be found! Was it just in the southern parts of India? I realized it was really a British version of an Indian soup. Inspired by India’s very own hot and spicy rasam, Mulligatawny Mughlai soup is part Indian and part British. The story goes that this soup was invented during colonial rule when the British kept requesting the soup as the first course and was adapted over time for their tastes.
Don’t be thrown off by the apples. You probably aren’t used to cooking with them this way, but I’m sure you’ll be impressed! They add a subtle sweetness that brings the other flavors to life. And we can’t forget about the coconut milk! This gets added at the very end and adds a richness that really brings the whole shebang together. The coconut milk also gently tones down the level of spiciness. That’s one of the great things about this mulligatawny soup recipe — it warms you from the inside out without being overpowering.
- Spices – Cumin, coriander, black pepper, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, and cloves add depth, flavor, and warmth, making this soup an aromatic masterpiece.
- Herbs – Fresh herbs like garlic and ginger add a snappy heat to the dish while herbs like cilantro, mint, and bay leaves add fresh, bright, and cooling tones.
- Ghee – This is high quality clarified butter. You might find it on the shelf next to coconut oil or in the cooler next to butter. Regular butter is an acceptable substitute.
- Vegetables – Onion, celery, carrots, and tomatoes add complex flavors and textures while adding body to the soup.
- Chicken – If you want a heartier soup, toss in one pound of boneless diced thigh meat along with the vegetables and cook through before proceeding.
- Apple – Compliments this savory soup with a pop of sweet tartness.
- Flour – Used for thickening the stock. All purpose flour works great, or you can use cornstarch as a substitute.
- Rice – Adds volume and texture to the dish. I prefer basmati rice, but go ahead and use your favorite variety. You can also choose lentils.
- Stock – Forms the base of this mulligatawny soup recipe. Chicken stock is standard, but vegetable or beef stock can work.
- Coconut Milk – Makes the soup silky smooth and creamy without weighing it down.
- Salt – This universal flavor enhancer makes everything taste better.
- Lemons – Deliver a perfect pop of sour brightness.
- Blend the Spices. Place all the ingredients for the spice paste along with ¼ cup water into your food processor or blender and blend until a paste forms. Set aside.
- Melt the Butter. Use a Dutch oven placed over medium heat to melt the butter. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon, and cloves and saute for one minute.
- Saute Vegetables. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, apple, and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Now, stir in the spice paste and saute for several minutes.
- Stir in the Stock. Mix the flour, rice, and chicken stock into the pot. Reduce heat, cover, and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the soup has thickened.
- Puree Soup. If working with an immersion blender, simply pulse the soup several times. Otherwise, remove half of the vegetable/apple solids, set aside, and ladle the soup into a blender. Puree well, then return to the Dutch oven along with the reserved solids. Now you can pour in the coconut milk. Stir thoroughly and simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Serve & Enjoy. Add salt as desired. Serve with a topping of freshly chopped cilantro and lemon wedges for squeezing.
Mulligatawny soup is a rich and flavorful masterpiece, chock full of spices like cumin, coriander, and black pepper with a garlicky, gingery kick. It has a mild curry flavor and is warming without being too spicy and creamy without being too heavy. Comfort food at its finest!
It’s completely optional. For this mulligatawny soup recipe, we are using a chicken stock base and have chicken listed as an optional ingredient. There are completely vegetarian versions, those with chicken, and even some made with beef stock and/or meat.
Absolutely! Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. I recommend leaving the rice and coconut milk out of the portion you are freezing. Instead, add them in upon reheating for optimal freshness.
For smaller amounts of leftovers, store in an airtight container and stash in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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- 2 tbsp ghee/butter
- 2 Indian bay leaves (not laurel bay leaves)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- 1 large red onion finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 stick celery diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 2 Roma plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 granny smith apple peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cooked basmati rice
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 14 oz coconut milk
- Kosher salt
- Put all the spice paste ingredients into a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup water and blitz to a paste. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves and fry for a minute.
- Add onion, garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the celery, carrot, tomatoes and apple and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in spice paste and fry for a several minutes.
- Stir in the flour, rice and chicken stock. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes until the soup has thickened.
- Either pulse the soup several times using an immersion blender or remove half of the vegetable/apple solids and set aside. Laddle soup into a blender, puree and return back to Dutch oven. Return reserved soup solids to the Dutch oven and pour in the coconut milk. Stir and and simmer on low 5 minutes.
- Season with salt to taste and serve with chopped cilantro and lemon wedges for squeezing.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.