A few years ago my mother came home from one of our favourite cafés in Wellington and said she’d had mulligatawny soup – a thick Indian chicken soup-stew with apples, rice and tomatoes. We should make it, she said. I can’t remember if we did or not, but I ate the soup at the same café not long after, the word mulligatawny mulling around in my head, pitching and rolling like a moored yacht.
A few weeks ago I made mulligatawny and after several years in the ‘holding bay’ part of my brain reserved for recipes to make or ingredients to try, mulligatawny is moving into ‘active rotation’. My version of mulligatawny, based on this recipe from the Wanderlust Kitchen, is more stew than soup with rice instead of lentils and shredded chicken. Two peeled and diced apples are a curious addition, one you might not think makes a resounding difference to the flavour – the tomatoes and the spices carry a certain sweetness too – but I began to think of the apples as I did of the 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, imperceptible (unless you taste by trade) but necessary.
Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
A few notes: the spice measurements are from the original recipe from the Wanderlust Kitchen and I find are more fragrant than hot – next time I’m adding more chilli. For the chicken, cook fresh or use leftover roast chicken. I imagine 1 or 2 chicken breasts would be fine for a lighter soup, or use a whole chicken for something more hearty.
a big knob of butter, about 50 grams
1 brown onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
red chilli, as many as you like, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 apples, peeled and diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
a generous grind of black pepper
1/2 cup uncooked rice
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and chilli and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions have softened.
Add the garlic, ginger, apples and diced tomatoes to the pot. Cook for another couple of minutes then add in all the spices and stir. Add in the rice and stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken pieces. Place browned meat in the mulligatawny and continue simmering for the 30 minutes. Pull the chicken pieces out and roughly shred with a fork. Using a stick blender, purée about half of the soup (or all of it, or none at all) and return the shredded chicken to the pot.
Serve with sliced toasted almonds on top or simply a dollop of plain yoghurt.