Easy and delicious soup with an Indian curry twist! This Mulligatawny soup recipe features chicken, coconut milk, apple, vegetables and rice, for a hearty, warming soup.
Why you’ll love this Mulligatawny Soup!
When the weather gets cooler, there is nothing like a big bowl Mulligatawny Soup to warm you up. The warm spices make this one a soul-soothing soup and particularly suited for Fall and Winter.
There are a lot of variations of Mulligatawny soup, some with chicken or beef and vegetables or others with just vegetables. Some have rice. Others use lentils. They all share the wonderful warming flavours of coconut milk and curry.
I’ve gone with a chicken Mulligatawny Soup here. I quickly cooked up some chicken, but you can just as easily start with left-over cooked chicken or even chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken.
The lovely thing about Mulligatawny Soup is that, like a classic Indian curry, it’s so adaptable to a adding a wide variety of ingredient options, swapping out the rice for lentils or skipping the chicken and making a vegetarian version that is still wonderfully hearty.
Chicken: You can use boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs here. I most often use chicken breast, myself. Alternately, if you have leftover cooked chicken, you can skip the chicken cooking stage. Meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken would also work.
Curry Paste: I love Madras Curry Paste for this soup. I find it a bit more complex in its flavour. I use Patak’s™ brand myself, which is easily found in the with Indian curry pastes and sauces at most grocery stores.
If you’d like to use a curry powder instead, the amount needed will vary, but as a general rule, substitute about 1 teaspoon of curry powder for 1 Tablespoon of curry paste. You don’t want to use Thai curry pastes here, as the flavour profile is different.
Ginger: I’m a big fan of ginger paste and I always have a tube in my fridge. If you don’t, substitute ginger powder (just needs a bit) or fresh grated ginger.
Rice: I use basmati rice here. You can use white or brown. A long-grain white rice would work as well. As noted above, an alternative to rice in this soup would be red split lentils.
Apple: Any apple is fine here. Granny Smith apples always work well. I shred the peeled apple with a box grater.
Cilantro: Hate cilantro? Feel free to skip it or substitute some parsley, for colour.
Coconut Milk: You can use regular or “lite” coconut milk. The lite version will make a slightly less creamy soup.
The 2/3 cup measurement is exactly equal the the mini (160ml) cans of coconut milk that are available from Thai Kitchen™, so if you have one of those you just add the whole can. If starting with a regular sized can of coconut milk, you’ll want to empty it out into a bowl and stir well before measuring out the 2/3 cup needed for the soup.
Coconut milk freezes well, so if you have only used part of a can, pour the remainder into a zipper-type plastic bag and freeze. I like to grab my sharpie and label the bag with the contents and approximate amount before adding to the bag, because even though you’re sure that you’ll know what it is later, my experience is not so much :)
The spiciness of this soup is completely within your control, depending on how much curry paste you add. I find one level tablespoon of Madras curry paste just about perfect. Add a heaping tablespoon for more spice or a scant tablespoon for less spice.
Make your own Indian curry spice mix
If you don’t have any Indian curry paste or powder on hand, you can make your own Indian curry spice mix for this soup, by mixing together
1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp turmeric and a small pinch of cayenne, if you’d like a touch of heat.
Making Ahead, Storing and Freezing
You’ll want to store any soup made ahead or leftover in the refrigerator. The soup will thicken as it sits in the fridge, as the rice will soak up some of the broth. You can thin it if you like with a bit more broth, but I prefer just to enjoy it in it’s more stew-like state myself.
I find that soups with rice don’t generally freeze all that well. If you want to make this soup and freeze, consider leaving out the rice. You can replace with lentils perhaps or add some cooked rice directly to the re-heated soup later.
Make it Vegetarian!
Skip the chicken and swap in vegetable broth for the chicken stock or broth. For added goodness, swap out the rice for red split lentils and add some extra veg, such as green beans, cauliflower and/or broccoli.
If using red lentils and/or additional vegetables, simply simmer in the broth (before adding coconut milk), until the lentils and/or vegetables are tender, however long that takes, then proceed to add the coconut milk etc.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
For cooking the chicken:
- 1 tsp butter, or ghee
- 2 cups chicken, uncooked, cut into bite-sized pieces *or see Note 1 below for using cooked chicken
For the base soup:
- 1 tsp butter, or ghee
- 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
- 1 1/4 cups carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp ginger paste, or 1/8 tsp ginger powder or 1/2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1 Tbsp Indian curry paste, such as Madras, or 1 tsp curry powder or *see Note 2 below options
- 4 cups chicken broth or stock
- 3/4 cup apple, peeled and shredded
- 1/4 cup basmati rice
To finish the soup:
- 1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Additional cilantro, chopped
- Drizzle of coconut milk, if desired
- Heat the butter in a large pot on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until cooked through. Remove from pot to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat another tsp of butter in the same soup pot, over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and saute, stirring until onions are softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add ginger and curry paste and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add chicken broth, shredded apple and rice. Return the cooked chicken to the pot and stir in.
- Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the carrots are tender (taste test the carrots, to be sure).
- Stir in the cilantro and coconut milk and stir/warm for a few more minutes. Taste soup and add salt and pepper, as needed (You'll probably need some). If you feel you'd like a bit more curry, stir in a touch more of the curry paste now, as well.
- Serve warm, garnished with additional chopped cilantro and a drizzle of coconut milk, if you like.
- You can also start with leftover cooked chicken or chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Simply skip the cooking of the chicken in the recipe instructions.
- I love Patak's Madras curry paste. If you only have curry powder on hand, use about 1 tsp of an Indian-style curry powder. Alternately, make your own curry mix by mixing together 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp turmeric and a small pinch of cayenne (if you want a touch of heat).