If you like mulligatawny soup, or even if you don’t like it that much, or you’ve never tried it, you have to try this recipe. This is the best mulligatawny soup recipe out there. Period. It’s that good!
Being a Seinfeld fan I’ve known about mulligatawny soup for a long while… Right, I learned about it from ‘The Soup Nazi’ episode, like millions of others I suppose. Remember the dialogue between Kramer and Elaine?
ELAINE: Do you need anything?
KRAMER: Well, a bowl of mulligatawny would hit the spot.
KRAMER: Yeah. It’s an Indian soup. It’s simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era.
Contrary to what I learned from the show and what stuck with me for years, mulligatawny is not an Indian soup. It’s a purely English soup made after an Indian recipe. The name roughly translates from Tamil as ‘pepper water’. The original Indian recipe is not even a soup, it’s a sauce that is served with rice.
According to Wikipedia, the original version of mulligatawny soup recipe consisted of a broth from lentils, fried onions and curry powder. Today it typically describes a thickened soup that is strongly spiced with curry powder and nutmeg. Often you will also see vegetables, nuts and rice added. Some recipes make use of port wine.
So, this incredibly delicious soup is a Western invention, but it comes with wonderful Indian flavors. This is one of my two most favorite soup recipes.
At the local spice store I can buy freshly prepared mild, medium and hot curry powder. I prefer mild hands down. Just my personal preference. If you like your soup spicier, substitute mild curry powder for medium or hot.
An even better alternative would be to make your own curry powder to suit your own taste.
I’ve used chicken breast, ready-to-eat smoked bacon, chicken thighs and beef meat in this recipe. The winner for me is beef. Followed closely by chicken thighs. Then followed by chicken breast. Chicken breast is good and is an excellent option for calorie conscious people. However, chicken thighs definitely add a lot of flavor and taste juicier.
Sous vide chicken breast and slow roasted chicken breast are both great options if you want tender and very juicy white chicken meat in your soup. Good quality stewing beef or beef chuck is an excellent option as well.
If you have leftover smoked meat (chuck, brisket, pulled pork, pork loin, pork chops, short rib, or kielbasa), use it, it works wonderfully with this soup, lending it a smoky flavor.
If you are using chicken thighs or beef, you can brown them about 1 minute per side over a fairly high heat. Browning chicken breast is a bad idea as it will become dry and rubbery later on, based on my experiments.
Vegetarian mulligatawny soup version
For the vegetarian option, instead of using meat, try adding sauteed oyster or other mushrooms with some onions toward the end of cooking. Satisfaction guaranteed! Don’t forget to substitute butter for olive oil and use vegetable broth.
Based on my research, it’s customary to add heavy cream to mulligatawny soup when serving, but I think the cream takes away from the depth of flavors in this amazing soup. My family loves it with the cream added though. I personally don’t. You decide for yourself.
- 6 chicken thighs (about 1 lb total, skinless, boneless, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; see notes for substitutions)
- 1/2 cup yellow onions chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 2 small carrots diced
- 1 leek thinly sliced (white part only)
- 1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp mild curry powder or medium / hot for more burn in your mouth
- 5 cups chicken stock (or chicken broth)
- 1/2 apple cored and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup white rice
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup heavy cream heated (optional)
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Saute onions, celery, leek, carrots, and butter in a large pot over medium heat until they start to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the flour and the curry, and cook over medium heat for 5 more minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, mix well, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add the apple, rice, chicken, salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is done.
- When serving, add heated cream (optionally) and chopped fresh parsley.
If you are looking for more cool Seinfeld recipes, check out The Best SEINFELD Recipes, Crafts, Printables & More! on Bomb Shell Bling.
Is the rice meant to be precooked first or can it be just raw uncooked rice?
Raw, uncooked rice.
Best and easiest (difficult combination!) Mulligatawny recipe I’ve tried. Easy to tweak.
Glad you liked it. Try my other soups, there are some really good ones. I think if you like Mulligatawny like me you will enjoy the other ones I have on my blog as much as I do.
This soup is absolute perfection.
It’s different yet familiar.
Happy to hear it. Enjoy!
Really good recipe. We also were introduced to Indian food during Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. What the heck is Mulligatawny, anyway? We had to find out & have been eating Indian food ever since. How could you not like it?
I made a few changes. I didn’t understand why you would simmer the ingredients for 30 min, THEN add the chicken, spices, etc. They needed to slowly absorb the spices, so I added it all after sautéing the aromatics, including diced potatoes bc I prefer them over rice, & simmered the whole shebang for 30 min. I only added the apples & parsley the last 5 min. I did add tempered cream at the end bc I think it’s much better than without, but apparently that’s just a personal preference.
Thanks for posting. I will definitely make this again with the added changes. And of course, it should be served with naan which now is available at Trader Joe’s, Costco & some grocery stores. Guess they watched The Soup Nazi also 🙂
Thank you, Benni. There is more than one way to make a soup, I guess. LOL Yeah, naan is a great addition, though I like French baguettes and Uzbek obi non. I bake my own, there is nothing like freshly baked bread. With a bowl of mulligatawny soup. LOL
I have made this twice for my family and was asked to add to our “meal rotation”. Many family members are allergic to apples so I subbed mushrooms for apples and added more curry and salt to taste. Super delicious !
Happy to hear it. Enjoy! Try my other soup recipes, I am sure you will love at least some of them if you like this one.
Great soup and my son really liked it! I used coconut milk as I’m dairy free. Delicious. The rice I used took longer than 15 mins to cook, but everything else in the recipe was perfect, including the slow cooked chicken breast I made from the recipe. Added a little less paprika for the rub than was called for, as I didn’t want the chicken to change the soup flavour. Thanks for this recipe! Will definitely make it again.
You are very welcome.
I am making this tonight with chicken breasts. If I follow your slow roast method and it has all those rub ingredients on it like cayenne and paprika, doesn’t that change the taste of the mulligatawny soup? Thanks!
I don’t think it will change the taste much but you can always just use salt and some pepper.
Wonderful and healthy soup!! My family enjoyed it – I added 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Thank you
You are very welcome.
Just made it, and it was great – Thank You!
I liked better without the cream; wife liked better with it 🙂
I increased the curry to 3tsp, and next time will make it 4.
I wanted to add garlic and garbanzo beans, but glad I didn’t.
😉 that’s exactly the situation in my family – I am no cream all the way but my wife and kids like it with the cream. Hey, try my Kharcho soup, it’s really good. For me it’s a toss between these two, both are my favorite soups.
That looks great too. May try in crockpot – thanks!
This is an amazing recipe Victor!
I made this for my family the other night and everyone loved it. I also would like to add that I made it with ground chicken instead of chopped and it was wonderful! I highly
I’ve been a fan of Mulligatawny since long before there was a Seinfeld show, and really enjoyed this recipe for it! I’ve only ever had and made chicken versions of it and am interested in trying it with the chuck beef, kielbasa and other meats. Do you usually use chicken broth or stock for all the other meat versions also, or usually pair those with alternate broths & stocks like vegetable or beef?
Wynn, I vary broths and stocks but often it depends on what I have on hand. I find that beef broth actually works well with chicken and kielbasa.
Thanks, Victor. I should have asked which broth is your Favorite match for each type of meat. I wing things a lot depending on what I’ve got on hand, too, but was hoping to start with which you’ve found to be the best matches. I’d also noticed you’d preferred ground chicken in the chicken lentil soup, and wondered if you’d ever used browned ground chuck in a Mulligatawny and how that had worked out? (I’d roasted a chuck beef last night, but have some lean ground chuck in the freezer.) I get on jags of making Mulligatawny (chicken) frequently at times, especially in winter. Is it me, or is this stuff slightly addictive?
Oh, I see… Thinking about it, I definitely prefer beef broth/stock… I often use it even with chicken or vegetables. I haven’t tried ground chuck in Mulligatawny but I used my favourite turkey meatballs several times and liked them a lot in the soup. Ground chuck should work and if not, I will make juicy meatballs (with a good amount of chopped onions which add a lot of moisture) with it, it should work very well. Yes, it’s addictive 😉 One of the most often cooked soups in our family. We all love it.
I followed the ingredient list but added more of these ingredients. 1.4 pds of Chicken, 1 whole granny smith apple, 1/2 cup of rice and a lot more pepper and way more curry. I used 3 diffent kinds of Curry…Vindaloo, Malay, and a regular store bought curry from Target. I probably used 5 teaspoons. It was really aromatic and not too spicy. I did not use parsley or cream. It was DELICIOUS!
I have made this before and it is very yummy!
Enjoy! Try my chicken lentil soup, it’s really, really good.
I thought that I was smarter than the author and added my “twist to it”. I added green lentils instead of the rice, which ended up being really nice! But I regret adding coconut milk…I read a bunch of other recipes that included it, so figured that it could only improve this recipe! It did not. The flavors were so vibrant, and then when I added the coconut milk it mellowed and I was a little let down. I’ll absolutely make it again, but not add the coconut milk / cream. Stick to the recipe with this one and you will be very happy!
Can I come and eat at your house? I am a Very Senior lady living in Idaho and like your cooking.
Hi Mavis, you are very welcome to come over but boy, Idaho is thousands of miles away from here:)
I am an 84 year old lady and still cooking everything for myself. I found your blog and recipes online and I am very impressed with you and your cooking style. I grew up with salt and pepper and not much else in verity. I have been trying your recipes and like everything I have cooked. This has kept me interested in my cooking style. Thank you for sharing your great talent for food preparations.
You are very welcome, Mavis. Enjoy!
Does this soup freeze well? By the way, I add diced potatoes. And the rice. Works great.
Hi Susan, yes, it freezes quite well.
Soup is my favourite food and this may be the best soup I have ever had. Certainly the best soup I’ve ever made! Thank you for sharing
Glad to hear that, Laura. I’ve been meaning to post my favorite lentil soup for months, oh my, I loooove it. Will try do it in the next few days. I have a feeling you will become a fan of it too.
Do you cook the chicken first? I love Mulligatawny soup!
Yes, it needs to be cooked first.
My reading of this recipe is that the chicken is not cooked first. You add it raw to the soup with the rice. That’s how I’ve been doing it for a couple years and it comes out great. It’s my favorite soup.
I didn’t cook chicken first. Just boiled 15 -20 min with rice as directed
Not enough liquid,it was more like a stew.
If yours came out too thick it’s a super easy fix – just add more chicken stock.
This soup is my favorite soup. And I LOVE soup!
wonderful recipe, my new favorite soup. thanks so much for sharing.
This is honestly one of the best soups I’ve ever had or made. I make a ton of soups! I’m vegetarian so I made it without meat and with vegetable broth and it’s still so delicious.
Where does all the sodium come from? I want to make this but that’s not healthy.
Most of it came from canned chicken broth which is high in sodium… I usually use chicken stock though and add a little salt to taste. Changed the ingredients to chicken stock, hope this helps.
This soup is amazing! Even my anti-soup husband loves it. The seasonings are perfect, and it is a flavorful, substantial fall soup. It is a soup that I’ll be making again and again! Thank you for the recipe!
Loved this recipe! Thank you! I’ve never had mulligatawny soup before. I have been missing out!!!
Used leftover chicken breasts …. otherwise followed it exactly. Wouldn’t change a thing!! 🙂
Glad to hear it, Kathy. I have a fantastic lentil soup recipe that I will be posting in the next day or two. I highly recommend trying it. Love it as much as my mulligatawny soup.
Where is your lentil soup recipe?
i have been cooking for over 50 years! this recipe rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I tried it with portobello mushrooms and sweet potatoes and red lentils. Very good,
Outstanding! Made this soup over a dozen times and can never have enough of it. Thanks for sharing.
I can’t wait to make this recipe for dinner tonight! Do you think it would work if I used lentils instead of rice? My family loves lentils and I saw them used in other mulligatawny soup recipes. Thanks!
I think lentils would work very well in this soup.
This soup was marvelous! Thank you so much.
You are very welcome, Barbara.
Wanting to make a meatless version but kids aren’t fans of mushrooms… so thinking of other veggies to add. Would potatoes be good in this?
Potatoes are a good option. Personally, I would add grilled or pan-fried (un-breaded) eggplant. Or zucchini. Else, can’t go wrong with pasta (macaroni, orzo, etc.) Kids love that.
Just give your kids meat it is a protein that humans have used for thousands of years you are depriving them of nutrients that can only be obtained through carnivorous means means in a just society you would be locked up for child abuse and your kids sent to a loving family
Is 6 chicken thighs correct? That seems like a lot for 4 servings. I’m planning on doubling the recipe for a soup party, so that would be 12?
I suppose it depends on the size of the thighs. The ones that I normally use aren’t that big. 6 boneless, skinless may be a pound or so. I think 3 oz of meat per person/serving would be a good amount.
Authentic Mulligatawny soup did not have meat or cream in it. Furthermore, curry powder was not used, while individual spices were.. I am sure that this is a delicious soup, but it is a creamy meat and lentil soup, as opposed to a “Mulligatawny”
Thanks for chiming in, Marc. So many variations of everything nowadays. My local supermarket sells white cucumbers that look nothing like normal cucumbers. They still call it a cucumber.
Absolutely delicious. I have made it several times, and the last time used full fat Coconut cream instead of regular cream. Wow, what a lovely flavor. I saved a small dollop for the top of the soup and then squeezed some fresh lime on the top.
Definitely a keeper in our home. even my picky Husband enjoyed the soup.
Thank you for Sharing,
You are very welcome, Deb. Thank you for your feedback.
My husband & I are huge Indian food fans (even tho’ apparently mulligatawny is English — who knew?) so I made this recipe tonight & it is definitely my fav. mulligatawny soup to date. That includes the Indian restaurants where sometimes it’s too watery or there’s not enough chicken or flavor. I left out the apple, nutmeg & thyme simply because I didn’t have those ingredients & added a skosh of garam masala because of the nutmeg & the soup didn’t seem to lack anything at all.. I did add the heavy cream to smooth it out & I liked it better than without, but I suppose it’s just up to the cook. BTW, years ago, my husband & I were watching Seinfeld & said, “What’s mulligatawny?” Heh-heh… that led us to a whole new world of food — naan, dal, tandoor, tikka masala, chai… yum. Thank you for the great recipe, Victor!
You are very welcome, Benni. So happy to hear that you found a new recipe that you liked a lot. Thank you for your feedback.
Our local specialty Market used to make this soup. It was my favorite!! Sadly, they went out of business. I was still craving the soup so did a google search and found Victor’s recipe. The ingredients looked right, so I gave it a try.
It was perfect! I loved it! I have hungry teens so doubled the recipe. Made it with chicken. Will be searching for a spicier curry, the one in my cupboard was too mild, I’ll add mushrooms next time, oh, and I added lite coconut milk rather than heavy cream.
Can’t wait to make it again!
Thanks for the great recipe and history about the soup!
Delicious recipe! I grated the apple with a cheese grater instead of chopping it up. It melted right into the soup and the soup was exceptionally tasty.
Perfect just what I was searching for!
I don’t normally comment on recipes, but this is the best mulligatawny we’ve tried so far. We are also big Seinfeld fans. Even our kids liked this soup (they haven’t liked any of the other Mulligatawny recipes so far). I like that it is relatively simple and doesn’t require any far out there kind of ingredients. For the meat, we just used leftover rotisserie chicken. Looking forward to leftovers today!
Thank you for taking time and leaving a comment, Karen. I am glad to hear that you liked the soup. Guess what, just mentioning it made me want it so badly that I will be making it today after work. I have some grilled chicken breasts left over from last night so I will use them in the soup. Can’t wait!
I have made your recipe for Mulligatawny soup once and it was excellent! I wasn’t sure if the chicken thighs were supposed to cook in just the 15 minutes that the rice was cooking. So I cooked them separately and added them during the last 15 minutes of cooking. I am making the soup again tomorrow night for company and am still wondering when the raw chicken thighs are supposed to be added? I like your wife’s recipe for boneless skinless chicken thighs cooked in a skillet on the top of the stove. Easy and delicious!
Hi Kathie, glad to hear that you liked the recipe and thanks for writing the detailed feedback. As to the chicken, you don’t need to cook it separately as 15 minutes of simmering is plenty to cook through 1/2-inch pieces of meat. If you do want to pre-cook, then adding the cooked through pieces of meat at the last minute would ensure against overcooking… and I hear you, I love those pan-fried chicken thighs too 😉
Thanks for answering so quickly! I was able to follow your advice for my company dinner tonight and the soup turned out great. Everybody wanted more!
You are very welcome!
Whitney Allison Kerr
Yum! I don’t usually cook, but had a craving and found your recipe. As a novice, prep took me much longer, but the end result was worth it. Very yummy and I know tomorrow’s leftovers will be even better. Thank you!
You are very welcome. I find cooking very rewarding, besides you can make just about anything in the kitchen whereas eating out is always limited in general in many ways. I am glad you liked the recipe. Please do come back and try my other recipes.
I’ve tried this mulligatawny soup in the Cheh Republic back in 2015, it was amazing. Thank you for sharing this great soup recipe with us.
I tried a kind of this soup earlier tonight, but I don’t think it had apples in it. If it did then I couldn’t taste them or find them. Are apples in most recipes and will it be ok if I don’t add them?
My apologies about the delayed response, your message went into spam folder for some reason. Apples can be omitted, but I find that tart apples add complexity to the flavor. The apples are boiled and softened to the point that you don’t really feel them. I know they are there, but they are very subtle to notice easily.
Sounds delicious but if i use stew beef it will bake longer for the meat to become tender. At what point do you add the chuck or stew meat/
Good point. I would prepare the beef separately and add it at the end. For softer cuts I would pan-sear, slice about 1/4″ thick and add about the same time as chicken. I have done it with chuck, flank and loin cut offs with excellent results. Honestly, I don’t use stewing beef much simply because it’s hard to cook as it consists of different cuts, some of which are very tough. I would definitely stew it first, separately, until tender then use in the soup.
The soup turned out really, really good! Thank you for the recipe.
You are very welcome.
What kind of Apple do you use?
I prefer green, tart apples.
Mulligatawny is not only an Indian soup but it’s the national soup of India and the name itself is Tamil. While the British were in India, there were some recipes that were Anglicized to suit their milder spice tolerance. What you were talking about is called radar which is literally pepper water that’s a thin spicy soup.
Interesting perspective though very much contradicts my understanding of the origins of this delicious soup. Thanks for sharing.