Fancy a satisfying supper bowl of spicy, hearty goodness that is a cinch to prepare? Try this homemade Mulligatawny soup recipe with chicken or paneer.
This recipe was first published on 22/01/2015 and updated on 08/01/2020.
A bowlful of spicy red mulligatawny soup? 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 soup has always been red. 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 soup 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…
What is Mulligatawny Soup?
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.
Big phew. Total joy. I can keep my red version.
The yellow soup, 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 homemade Mulligatawny soup recipes for us all to enjoy.
How to Make Mulligatawny Soup
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.
To make the paste simply:
grind 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 a few minutes
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.
Once the curry paste is ready, it’s a straightforward process to make this hearty soup:
Fry the shallots and celery until beginning to soften
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, pour over the stock and simmer 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, bring to the boil & cook for 5 minutes
Return the chicken to the pan, along with the potato and rice and additional stock if necessary
Heat through and serve, garnished with fresh coriander
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 this homemade mulligatawny soup is a cinch to prepare.
Is Mulligatawny Soup Vegetarian?
Recipes vary, but on the whole, a lot of mulligatawny soups are vegetarian. Furthermore, they can easily be made vegan by leaving out any animal and dairy-based protein.
My version as presented today is not vegan or vegetarian, but it can be easily adapted:
- use chickpeas in place of chicken for a vegan soup
- switch out the chicken for fried paneer cheese for a veggie feast
Whichever source of protein you opt for, I’m sure you’ll return to this homemade mulligatawny soup recipe time after time.
Looking for More Soup Recipes? Try These:
- Creamy Mushroom Thyme & Stilton Soup
- Split Pea Chicken Rice Soup
- Celeriac Spinach & Blue Cheese Soup
- Hearty Paprika Soup with Carrot & Zucchini
Red Mulligatawny Soup
For the Madras Pasta
- 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)
For the Soup
- 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 – 1ltr (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
For the Madras paste
- 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
For the Soup
- 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
Nutritional Information Per Serving (Approximate)
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