Mulligatawny Soup


28 Oct Mulligatawny Soup


When I first heard of Mulligatawny soup, I had no idea what it was. The name sounded Irish to me. I envisioned a simple stew-like dish with hunks of long-simmered beef, thick rounds of overcooked carrots and potato wedges that would fall apart en route to my mouth.

I later discovered Mulligatawny is actually an Anglo-Indian dish, which translates to “pepper water.” Not sure why, since it’s not that firey a soup.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of versions, most calling for chicken, coconut milk and an apple. Basmati rice or lentils thicken it, while the spicing varies from commercial curry powder to a complex combination of whole Indian spices. Since there are as many variations as there are cooks, I’ve taken the liberty of fiddling with the already unauthentic dish.

I added that ginger I’ve been craving, selected my favourite Indian flavours and topped it all off with copious quantities of my beloved cilantro (don’t panic, Robin and Joanne, you can leave it out). Is my soup as good as my intentions? I’d like to think so.

Feel free to add your own twist.

Unauthentic Mulligatawny Soup
Printable recipe

Serves 6


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (ghee would be more authentic)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 3/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1 – 2 tsp curry paste (to taste, or omit and add coriander chutney to each dish)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken, pre-cooked and diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • coriander chutney


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, carrots and celery until soft.
  2. Add ginger, spices and curry paste. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add lentils and the apple. Stir to coat well with spices.
  4. Add chicken stock and coconut milk and bring just to the boil. Reduce to a simmer.
  5. Cook on a gentle simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the lentils have dissolved.
  6. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
  7. Add diced chicken and return the soup to the boil.
  8. Turn off heat. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
  9. Add fresh ground black pepper and a dot of coriander chutney if you like a bit more heat.

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No Comments
  • cheryl
    Posted at 15:48h, 28 October Reply

    Lentil soup on your blog, lentil soup on my blog. Now I’m really starting to freak out. Are you sure you’re not a short Jewish girl from New York? Because if you are, then you’re me.

    (p.s. LOVE the use of coconut milk here.)

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 16:47h, 28 October Reply

    Yum! I love this kind of soup. I think I’d serve it with naan bread smothered in sharp cheddar cheese and broiled until bubbly. Yikes! I feel my hips widening just thinking about it!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:07h, 28 October Reply

    Cheryl, I am a petite WASP from Ontario. I freak many people out, but not because of my psychic ability to predict when they’ll make lentil soup. It usually has something to do with my bad sense of direction and driving.

    Dana, the naan smothered with cheddar would be perfect. I almost bought naan today but decided against it for similar reasons. If I’m going to pad my hips, it will be with butter tarts (Dana just posted her recipe for the ultimate butter tarts — check it out at

  • Erik
    Posted at 19:55h, 28 October Reply

    Oh wow…I am so stealing this recipe and telling my friends I made it up! This looks amazing!

  • Leah Ingram
    Posted at 21:01h, 28 October Reply

    I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I noticed your iCopyright line and checked into putting that on my blog, too. So thanks for that tip, even though you weren’t promoting it!


  • Anonymous
    Posted at 21:34h, 28 October Reply

    Again I realize I shouldn’t read your blog late at night, as I always want to eat when I see your pictures and recipies.
    Thanks for the Maple Squash Soup!! LOVELY and a velvet smooth texture. I can’t get my soups that smooth. You just always have to cook for me – please!!!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 22:09h, 28 October Reply

    Thanks, Erik. I take that as a compliment. I was rather pleased with the results since my husband had seconds. We both really like the added kick of coriander chutney.

    Leah, happy to be of service.

    Robin, I’m glad you liked the soup. I just used a Braun immersion blender. Nothing special. Make you a deal. I’ll do the cooking if you clean up. What time shall I expect you?

  • gerimox
    Posted at 02:56h, 29 October Reply

    Mulligatawny is derived from the Tamil word “Milagu thani”, and can be literally translated as “Pepper water”. It is a traditional Indian dish, popular in tamil nadu(India).The british, as with most Indian names, could never pronounce the name of the dish properly and hence it’s present name.

  • jennifer | themakelounge
    Posted at 10:35h, 29 October Reply

    It’s one of my favourite soups!

  • ClaireWalter
    Posted at 10:39h, 29 October Reply

    Re “…I’ve taken the liberty of fiddling with the already unauthentic dish.” I don’t think its inauthentic. I think it is, as you noted, an Indo-English Anglo-Indian dish from the days of the Raj. So too are Major Grey’s-type chutney, curry powder and probably others.

    I was just in Houston at a conference and had lunch at an Indian restaurant called the London Sizzler. Chicken tikka masala remains a popular dish not just in London but also elsewhere in England, not just in Indian take-aways but as the token Indian-ish dish drawing in other styles of eatry too.

    Claire @

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:54h, 29 October Reply

    Thanks for the explanation, gerimox.

    Jennifer, lovely to “see” you again. Are you still in London, UK? The Indian restaurants there were wonderful.

    Claire, point taken. When I called Mulligatawny unauthentic, I meant it had been Anglicized. I guess it’s one of the original “fusion” foods?

  • Jeremy
    Posted at 01:15h, 31 March Reply

    I like soups in winter, warming nourishing and usually make my own. This one looks very thick and my kids like thick one though.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 08:25h, 31 March Reply

    Jeremy, we’re finally leaving winter behind here, but this soup is a good thick cold-weather warm up dish. You can adjust the thickness by adding more or fewer lentils. Let me know if you try it.

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