Fancy a satisfying supper bowl of spicy, hearty goodness that is a cinch to prepare? Try this red Mulligatawny soup with chicken or paneer.
A bowlful of red and spicy Mulligatawny? If it’s cold outside, I’m there. We’re deep into a cold stretch of weather in the UK, with everybody talking about the likelihood of snow. Nah, it’ll never happen. But snow aside, when it’s this cold outside, soup is what I need to pull me through.
In my mind, Mulligatawny has always been a red soup. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s just because that’s what I’ve been used to all these years. However, after writing up my split pea, chicken & rice soup recipe a while back and posting the photos all over the web, I came across numerous other yellow soups, similar to mine, but with the name Mulligatawny. First I was confused and spent a few minutes wondering if I was just dumb. How could I have been so wrong for so many years? And if the real Mulligatawny was my lovely yellow creation, had all my friends been just smiling politely as I served them up this red soup telling them it was, um, Mulligatawny? I felt dumb. Very dumb.
Then I googled the M word.
I discovered that Mulligatawny actually means a curry flavoured soup, derived from the Tamil words milagu (meaning pepper) and thanni (water). In a nutshell: curry soup, whatever the colour. That means that what I’ve always thought of as being Mulligatawny – the version here – can still be classed as Mulligatawny. Big phew. Total joy. The yellow version, involving turmeric, rice and pulses – often lentils – is just the more common type. So good news all around, I am not a total dumbo after all and – bonus – I’m fast approaching a rainbow of Mulligatawny soups for us all to enjoy.
I’ve made my soup with some homemade madras paste (recipe included). The smell as you make it is fab and it’s also really quick (as in 5 minutes) if, like me, you use a coffee grinder to do the hard work. I’ve added 2 tablespoons of paste to my soup and it’s definitely a warm and cosy medium rather than medium/mild. Bought pastes work well too – just adjust the amount added to the soup according to the guidelines on the jar – 2 tablespoons of a super-hot vindaloo paste might just blow your head off. You. Have. Been. Warned.
My soup does not involve any pulses but it does include rice and potatoes which soak up all the fantastic curry flavours beautifully. It also includes carrot and parsnip and their underlying sweet notes just bounce off the spices delightfully. All in all, this is a large and satisfying bowl of red, soupy goodness. You’ll also find that it’s a a cinch to prepare. Enjoy.
After making this dish, I was browsing the supermarket cheese section and came across paneer, which I had totally forgotten about for a while. Since then, I’ve been wondering if this would be a good alternative to the chicken in this dish. I’m thinking: fry, then add to the pot along with the rice and potatoes to let the soupy-curry flavours at it. I’m going to have to give it a go asap as cheese is one of my closest friends, especially during winter, along with mulligatawny of all varieties. I think you’ve probably worked that out.
If you make the curry paste, you will end up with more than enough for this recipe. It keeps well in an airtight container for up to 1 month in the fridge, ready to make a second batch of soup or try adding it to your favourite curry recipe.
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder (medium-hot)
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
- 1 tsp crushed/ grated fresh ginger
- 3 tbsp groundnut oil (or any flavourless oil)
- 6 tbsp distilled vinegar (white)
- 4 shallots – finely diced
- 2 celery sticks - sliced
- 2 medium carrots - diced
- 2 medium parsnips - diced
- 1 red pepper - chopped small
- 2 tbsp madras paste (for medium-hot)
- 750 ml - 1 ltr (3-4 cups) chicken stock
- 2 medium chicken breasts
- 400 ml/ 13/4 cups passata
- 100 g/ 4 oz/ 1/2 cup cooked potato (cubed)
- 100 g/ 4 oz/ 1/2 cup cooked basmati rice
- Optional garnish: fresh coriander leaves
- Make the madras paste by grinding the coriander and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar until reduced to a fine powder (or grind in a coffee grinder)
- Add the other spices, then stir in the vinegar
- Heat the oil in a small pan and gently cook the spice mix for 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until just beginning to bubble
- Allow to cool, stir well and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month
- Fry the shallots and celery in a large saucepan over a gently heat until beginning to soften - about 5 minutes
- Add the carrot and parsnip and fry for 3 more minutes. Stir in the madras paste and allow to cook for 1 more minute
- Place the chicken in the saucepan and pour over 750ml/ 3 cups of the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked)
- Remove the chicken and allow to cool slightly, then shred using 2 forks to rip it apart
- Add the pepper and passata to the soup, season to taste and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, adding extra stock to loosen the soup if needed
- Return the chicken to the pan, along with the potato and rice. Heat through and serve, garnished with fresh coriander