Mulligatawny Soup: one of my favourite soups
Mulligatawny soup evokes childhood memories of coming home for lunch in winter after Saturday sport. Mum would often have a pot simmering on the stove, and Mulligatawny soup was one of my favourites. For me, a steaming bowl of homemade soup is the ultimate comfort food in the cooler months – especially when battling a cold, as I am right now. I rang my mum to ask for this recipe when I was living in the USA and feeling homesick. The recipe arrived a week later in the post, beautifully hand-written. Mum tells me it’s a recipe from a Woman’s Weekly recipe from the 1970s. Thank you, Woman’s Weekly!
A little bit of history about Mulligatawny Soup
Mulligatawny soup was originally made for the British employees of the East India Company during the 18th century. Mulligatawny is translated from the Tamil milagu thanni which means pepper water. Historically, there have been many variations of the recipe, ranging from a quick and simple clear broth to an elaborate concoction of meat and vegetables which took hours to cook.
Eliza Acton included three recipes in her 1845 book, Modern Cookery In All Its Branches. She refers to her readers’ delicate English palates: “Unless precise orders to the contrary have been given, onions, eschallots and garlic should be used in seasoning with great moderation” since these are “very offensive to many eaters” and “to persons of delicate habit their effects are sometimes extremely prejudicial.” Her recipes also included how to boil rice for the soup, as rice was rarely eaten in England at that time. https://daily.jstor.org/the-soup-of-british-colonialism/
I’m rather pleased that the Anglo palate has matured since then!
My tips for making Mulligatawny Soup
Making mulligatawny soup does take time, so I’d recommend making it at the weekend when you’re pottering around at home. I often cook the chicken the day before, so that I have the shredded chicken and the stock ready to go. I haven’t changed it much from the original recipe, although I added grated turmeric and curry leaves, and a little more chilli powder. I’m grateful for the big pot of Mulligatawny soup I made yesterday to help me get over my cold.
Here’s another recipe for a comforting winter soup: https://atamandastable.com.au/pea-and-ham-soup/
PS: If you’ve tried this mulligatawny soup or any other recipe on At Amandas Table, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! If you’d like to read more, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter for stories, recipes and tips for simple, nutritious meals.
- 1 kg chicken thighs
- 7 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cm piece of tumeric, peeled and grated
- 5 tsp curry powder
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 green capsicum, seeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 270 g can coconut cream
- cooked basmati rice, papadums or naan, to serve
- Put chicken into saucepan, add water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat; skim well to remove any scum; reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for 1 ¼ hours.
- Remove any fat from top of stock; strain; reserve stock and chicken separately.
- Melt butter in large saucepan, add onion and cook until transparent.
- Add ginger, turmeric and garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add 1 tsp of salt, curry powder, chilli powder, garam masala and cinnamon, stir over heat 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add flour to pan, and stir over low heat until combined.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, drained lentils and reserved stock, then stir until combined.
- Add green capsicum, carrot and celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then cover saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Puree with soup with a handheld blender, then stir in the coconut cream.
- Shred the cooked chicken and stir into the soup.
- Reheat, season to taste, and serve with a spoonful of cooked rice on top, and papadums or naan on the side.