Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Global Cheap Eats: Mulligatawny

Soup weather is officially upon us and just in time, right? There are few eats cheaper than homemade soup, and tonight the starring soup is mulligatawny, an Anglo-Indian chicken soup with lots of veggies and a warming curry kick in every bite. Not only is this soup bright, filling, and incredibly inexpensive, but it is flexible: omit the chicken and swap vegetable broth for stock, and you've got an even cheaper, vegan meal. (Here's looking at you, my vegan sisters.) Can't do spicy? Just dial back the spices to your taste. Too broke for one of those ridiculous, winter-hot-house, two-dollar red peppers? Leave it out, baby.

Are you in? Let's make some mulligatawny magic.

peeling apple
First off, you'll need one peeled, chopped, crispy apple, like a Fuji or Braeburn. Once cooked, the apple will be kind of like potato, easily taking on the curry flavors but also adding a slight sweetness to the finished product. You may be skeptical of fruit in soup, but let's just run with it, OK?

chop chop
Next, chop up a healthy mess of vegetables: carrots, celery, onion, green pepper, and red pepper. You'll need about 4-5 cups of fruit and vegetables total, so there is certain flexibility according to what you have on hand. Got some mushrooms? Throw those in, too. Not much celery? Just use what you have.

After heating about 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add your fruit and veggies to the pot. Sauté over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally and being sure to pat yourself on the back for making something with six(!) different types of fruit and veg. You are a top-drawer, fully actualized human being, no doubt about it.

While the vegetables cook, measure out your dry ingredients: flour, curry, ginger, red pepper flakes, and salt. Once the vegetables are soft, add the dry ingredients to the pot and stir until the spices are fragrant and the flour toasty, about one minute. The vegetables will be coated in a thick, dry, spicy paste. Now, slowly add your assembled liquid ingredients: chicken stock, tomato paste, and mango chutney.

Though BeanPlate is not about purchasing expensive specialty ingredients for the sake of a single recipe, the chutney is mission critical. And you don't have to go to a specialty market; most stores carry some kind of chutney on the mustard/ketchup/pickle aisle. If you want chutney on the cheap, though, go to your local international market. One jar will last in the fridge for ages and has scads of other uses (hint, hint: BeanPlate coming attractions).

But, back to the soup! Bring it to a strong simmer and add about one pound of raw, chopped chicken breast. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about twenty minutes. Now, if you want things to be slightly more decadent, you can finish the soup with a splash or two of cream or half-and-half. If you'd rather keep things squeaky clean (and vegan) don't add any dairy...

mulligatawny close
...just garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and enjoy! Mulligatawny is also delicious topped with a few tablespoons of toasted cashews or almonds, or possibly with a scoop of steamed rice in the center of the bowl. Your Mulligatawny options: they are endless.

This recipe is particularly great the second day and will freeze beautifully, guaranteed. And one final note: chutney sometimes contains whole raisins, so if you (like me) have a loved one who is morally opposed to hot raisins, you can fish the one or two stray raisins out before serving. Or, if you prefer culinary passive aggression, just leave those swollen little babies alone.

Which begs a closing question: hot, cooked raisins: tasty treat or bloated devil fruit? Discuss.

(Click here for print-ready recipe.)

Mulligatawny (Indian Chicken Soup) from BeanPlate
serves 4-6

2 T. butter
1/2 T. vegetable oil
1 cup apple, chopped and peeled
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
2 T. flour
2 T. curry (or less, to your taste)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
28 oz. low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/3 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces

1/3 cup cream or half-and-half (optional)
flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat butter and oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add apple and all vegetables and sauté about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour, spices, and salt. Stir well, cooking about one minute, until fragrant and toasted. Add broth, chutney, and tomato paste; bring to a high simmer. Add chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through, or reduce heat and cook over very low temperature for a few hours. If creamier soup is desired, stir in cream or half-and-half and gently warm through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


  1. Ugh! Raisins are the devil's dried, wrinkly...fruit. No thanks.

    But I suddenly want some soup. Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Hot raisins equals tasty treat. You should have made a poll here.

  3. Raisins in bread pudding equal love, raisins in soup? I'll let you know! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I'll be back for this one- a friend made her version of this one time and it was the best soup I have ever eaten and I like soup!
    How about some picadea? ( spelling??)
    Mexican or Brazilian with ground beef, apples, raisins and spices- yum!

  5. It's the texture of raisins I can't abide....Do you think that I could puree the chutney with a bit of the stock and THEN add it to the soup? I think it'd work, you'd still get the flavour, but no chance of evil raisins getting in my mouth and making me choke. I'll be making this though, I love me some homemade soup!

  6. Bloated devil fruit, definitely. No need for discussion.

  7. I just made this and posted some love for it on my blog! Oh, and I didn't even realize the chutney had raisins in it until I read the comments. I will follow you blindly!

  8. Love this. I am going to make this tonight. Your photos are way too good. Will be sending this to my vegetarian daughter=no chicken.

  9. I came up on this on stumbleupon and found it quite funny because the original name of the soup is "Milagu/Molagu Thanni"
    Milagu = Black Pepper
    Thanni = Water

    It is a very watery soup which is quite hot and tangy and very popular in its state of origin - Tamilnadu ( a southern state in india).

    The soup you have made actually seems quite delicious but it is not Mullagitawny (which should be watery and without vegetables and not rich) :)

  10. I'm part of the anti-raisin movement. Any dark spots in a cookie better be chocolate chips.

    Would cilantro be too much as a replacement for the parsley?

  11. bloated devil fruit. hate them dried too. bleh.

  12. mmmm, raisins! esp, in curry. yummy.

    this looks great...i'm officially putting it on next week's menu! :)


  13. Raisins alone, I can do. Add them to anything (!) and it puke-a-tronic.

  14. After thinking about this for a few moments, I realized I only like raisins in cereal and certain kinds of cookies. I don't like them that much alone. I can't stand raisins in chocolate. Bleah. I'm not sure about soup. I'll have to try it and find out.

  15. I would like a copy of this recipe, but when I click on the "click here for a print-ready copy" I am directed to Keep and Share, had to register, then they want me to ask you for a copy, so that's what I'm doing. Whew!

  16. This looks like a wonderful curried vegetable soup, but it's far from being mulligatawny soup, Beany. Authentic mulligatawny soup is a chicken stock base, contains garlic, ginger, tamarind, coconut milk and NO BLOATED RAISINS! :)

    But this one looks yummy, nevertheless.

  17. I think the people above you are critiquing the anthropological and culinary history of this recipe need to get a life! Its a recipe people, not history channel.

    Regarding the raisins...I am opposed to hot, swollen raisins because they remind me too much of raisins, after they had passed through my kids' GI tracts and ended up in diapers. Yuck. Resembled deflated grapes...

  18. It sounds like there are variations of mulligatawny and i think yours is definately one of them.

    Mulligatawny is a curry-flavoured soup of Anglo-Indian origin.[1] It is sometimes incorrectly regarded as the national soup of India.

    A literal translation from Tamil is "pepper water"[2] ("Millagu" மிளகு is pepper and "Thanni" தண்ணீர் is water). Despite the name, pepper itself is not a vital ingredient. Rice and noodles are commonly served in the soup; the real dish the Anglo-Indians call "pepper water" is closer to Tamilian ரசம்-rasam (pronounced Russ-um) than mulligatawny.

    There are many variations on the recipe.[3] Sometimes, the soup has a turmeric-like yellow colour and is garnished with parsley and chicken meat, and is more soupy, which takes on its Anglo-Indian adaptation to be a thick, spicy meat soup.

  19. To All My Anonymous Pals:

    Thanks for the heads-up about the Keep-And-Share login request! That has been fixed. The link should go straight to a pdf, no login required.

    Regarding the Mulligatawny authenticity debate: good points all. It is my understanding that there are countless incarnations of this dish, and the on I made is the one influenced by colonial British ingredients. I sure hope you like it, no matter what it is called.

  20. OH! And regarding the much-reviled hot raisins: there only a few in the entire jar of chutney, and they can easily be extracted before adding to the pot. Rest easy, raisin-haters.

  21. Your new site is beautiful. Raisins are a tasty treat. Remember pre-raisin grapes make delicious wine...so they can't be all bad!

  22. Yum Yum Yum I am starving. putting aside the CHeetos for a stab at this one!

  23. Ummm, it's not vegan if there's a pound of chicken in it.

    And I'd say use some cilantro instead of parsley. But you did say that it is Anglo-Indian.

  24. Anon:

    Ummm, that's why I said this up front:

    ...and omit the chicken and swap vegetable broth for stock, and you've got an even cheaper, vegan meal.


  25. raisins:

    grapes that didn't make the cut.


  26. I didn't know raisins were so controversial. :)

    I'm giving this a shot this week.

  27. I have never tried Mulligatawny. Apples, eh? Worth a shot.

    I like hot raisins in oatmeal and sweets. I find them somewhat wierd in savory dishes though.

  28. I've got a lot to learn - this is the first I've heard of mulligatawny, and while I've heard of chutney, no ideer what it is. It all looks delish. Would love to get comfortable cooking with curry powder.

  29. I'm SO going to give this a try. Thanks for the idea! I'm always looking for new cooking ideas.

    Angie (from www.HalfAssedKitchen.com)

  30. this was soooo yummy. i was feeling sick and made this and some hot toddies... did the trick. the husband (who never gets very excited about my cooking) said YUM without hesitation or prodding!!!

  31. my boyfriend and i have made this soup together a couple times, and are currently making it for his family for dinner. it is WONDERFUL!! i came to the comments to see the verdict on the raisin debate. i love raisins but i seem to be in the minority. thanks for the great recipe, as well as the way to make it vegetarian. you are warming our souls on a cold winter day :)

  32. Thanks for this nice recipes.

  33. At a restaurant I used to work at, there was this little old lady who would come in really early in the morning and make the soups. She made a delicious mulligatawny and wouldn't give me the recipe. There were no raisins in it, however, there were grapes. It was the most flavourful soup I had ever eaten. Damn her for not giving me the recipe. .... so, yeah - raisin haters - leave them out and put grapes in instead.

  34. weather is getting chilly so i turned back to this wonderful soup again last night. i tried it with a few modifications: used seitan instead of chicken, coconut milk instead of cream and added a cinnamon stick during simmer time. i love this soup.

  35. Great recipe, thank you for this nice recipe post. Free Web Directory