Mulligatawny Soup

It rained yesterday – the kind of straight down, all day soaking rain under grey cloudy skies that chills you to the bone even if you are in the house. Cooking soup is a wonderful activity for cold, rainy days.  There is something comforting about sitting at the kitchen table with the gentle bubbling sounds of soup simmering on the stove, and the smells of cooking onions and spices filling the warm kitchen air.  And of course, a bowl of hot soup on a blustery day feeds the soul as well as the stomach.  I’ve already made a big pot of bean soup, freezing most of it for future meals.  I decided to try Mulligatawny soup, which I have eaten, but never made.

Mulligatawny is a mildly curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin. Translated literally from Tamil, “Mulligatawny” means “pepper water”. Despite the name, however, pepper itself is not a vital ingredient. I never actually had anything like Mulligatawny soup in India. I expect it is actually a British interpretation of some Indian dish, made milder for the Western palate.  Mulligatawny soup found its way into American cookery well before the Civil War. It appeared in the original Fannie Farmer cookbook of 1896.

There are many variations of the recipe for Mulligatawny soup.  Sometimes, the soup has a turmeric-like yellow color and is rather thick and creamy. That is the way I have experienced it in restaurants. I decided to modify the rather simple recipe in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook, which makes what I would call a thick, mildly curried, chicken vegetable soup.

Mulligatawny Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green pepper, deveined and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 cup (about 1 pound) raw chicken breast, diced
1/3 cup flour
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups non-fat chicken broth
2 sprigs parley, chopped (I used dried parsley)
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes, lightly drained
2 cups cooked rice
Freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, apple, and chicken.  Cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix flour with curry powder and nutmeg, add to the pot, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, parsley, and tomatoes.  Partially cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Stir once in a while to make sure it doesn’t stick.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some cooked rice into the bowl when serving the soup. (I did this the first time, and then mixed the remaining rice into the soup for later servings.)  This makes 6 servings of soup at about 5 grams of fat/serving.


Variation: There are many recipes for Mulligatawny Soup that have more ingredients and elaborate preparation. I chose the Fannie Farmer version because her recipes tend to be simple and doable. Most recipes seem to add cubed potatoes, which I think would be an admirable addition. I think you could easily add a few other vegetables as well (peas come to mind, although I’m not terribly fond of them). Other recipes add turmeric for a pronounced yellow color. I ate a bowl of the soup with a dollop of yogurt in it, which was quite good. This soup is not particularly spicy-hot, so those who want heat can add more black pepper, or a splash or two of hot sauce.


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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