Mulligatawny Soup

Soup was never part of Indian cooking until the British brought their love of it to India during their years of power and influence, from the late-19th century to the mid-20th century.  As the two cultures came together, the Indian cook was charged with making the soup that the British wanted served with their meals.  At the same time, many upper-class Indian households adopted British customs in numerous ways and soup became a familiar dish served in Indian households.

The South Indian cook merged the Indian dish, rasam, which was a watery broth of lentils and ground spices, with vegetables and meat to create a satisfying soup. Thus, an Anglicized version of  "pepper water" was created.  Milagu means pepper and thanni means water...put together you get Mulligatawny or "pepper water", a rich curried soup originally made with peppers.

Over time the recipe has changed to suit differing tastes in Western cultures.  While peppers may not always be included on the ingredient list and yogurt may be substituted for coconut milk, the recipe most often includes chicken stock, onion, celery, apples and almonds.  Cooks can prepare a mild curry soup, or adjust the spiciness of the dish by using peppers or additional spices!

Mulligatawny Soup
adapted from Cafe Lynnylu

4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, ground
3 cloves, ground
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp spicy smoked paprika
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, diced (bite-size pieces)
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled, chopped
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2-2/3 cup red lentils (2/3 cup rice may be used)
2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Select from Garnishes:  fresh chopped parsley, toasted unsweetened coconut, toasted sliced almonds

Combine garlic and spices in a small bowl.

Prepare celery, onions, carrots and leek.  Place in another small bowl.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken and in batches saute until lightly browned.  Remove chicken to a plate.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the Dutch oven.  Add the celery, onions, carrots and leek as well as the garlic and spice mixture and blend well.  Add one cup of the chicken stock and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.

Add the chicken to the vegetables in the Dutch oven.  Add the remaining chicken stock and the lentils. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.

Blend in the yogurt and apples.  Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.

(Remove any grease, if necessary.)

Stir in the lemon juice and blend in the cream.

Taste and adjust seasonings and spices as preferred.


So what motivated me to make Mulligatawny Soup?   Besides the fact that I have missed Indian Cuisine and lately seem to be on a roll using Indian spices, it was The Secret Recipe Club and the blog I was assigned, Cafe Lynnylu.  Lynne's blog is not unfamiliar to me as I was assigned her blog in June.  How fun to come back and get to find another recipe to share.  Lynne is an avid cook, a food and lifestyle photographer and loves to travel. Her blog is evidence of her career and her interests...gorgeous photography and recipe after recipe!  I loved having the problem of selecting just one recipe..and this time it was her Mulligatawny Soup.

I was not disappointed!  The soup was wonderful and very close to what I remember eating when I was in India many years ago.   I did adjust the spices by adding some spicy smoked paprika and reduced the amount of garlic, I threw in an extra carrot...mine were small... and I substituted lentils for rice.   The flavors were fantastic with just the right amount of spiciness for us.


  1. Thanks for choosing the Mulligatawny soup from Cafe Lynnylu. I absolutely loved that soup and I need to make it again! Also, I'm thrilled that it was very much like the soup you had in India. I love the photos used as a background for the soup. Perfect!!

  2. Oh this looks and sounds delicious, great pick!

  3. Mulligatawny soup is on my cooking bucket list. I have no idea why I havent made it yet, maybe because I keep finding so many different variations on the recipe and I dont know which to choose. This one sounds delicious.

  4. This is a great choice. I made mulligatawny for the first time last year and loved it. It's definitely something to make again.

  5. This looks wonderful! Think I'll make it for dinner this evening.

  6. Amo las sopas y esta se ve magnìfica y absolutamente deliciosa,hugs,hugs.

  7. what a great soup choice. I would have been nervous but it looks delicious.

  8. This looks positively delicious! Thanks for sharing with the SRC today.

  9. Very cool Kate, I've heard of this but didn't really know anything about it. It looks fantastic!

  10. First of all, I didn't know that about soup in Indian culture, so that was really interesting to read! Secondly, I have been wanting to try mulligatawny for some time, and this post has me pushing it higher up the list of to-try recipes! Great choice!

  11. We enjoy this soup whenever we eat Indian food out. I need to add it to the list of recipes to try.

  12. I have never made anything Indian so this looks delicious!

  13. Very good looking and unique sounding soup Kathy. " very close to what I remember eating when I was in India" - this is always a fun thing to say.

  14. We like Indian flavors once in a while, so I'm thinking I'll have to make this soup! :)

  15. This sounds like a great twist on chicken soup with lots of flavors. Great pick

  16. Any soup with cream in it has to be good! Sometimes you just need to go all out. We really enjoyed your cranberry breakfast cake and I look forward to trying more of your recipes (including this soup)!

  17. Somehow, I always think of a "Jerry Seinfeld" episode, where Kramer talks dreamily about this soup. It's been on my bucket list forever. Thanks for reminding me of this soup. It looks like it's packed with flavor and color.


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