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How to Make Simple and Healthy Mulligatawny Soup (Traditional and Vegetarian Styles)

Updated on August 6, 2012

Mulligatawny soup

5 stars from 1 rating of Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny Soup -- Saying it is FUN and dining on it is even better!

The first time I encountered a bowl of mulligatawny soup was in a restaurant where the signature dish was roasted prime rib. The prime rib that this restaurant produced was a strong rival to the prime rib that my Chef Dad roasted -- that is how tasty it was!! Always perfect and tender, it was what I always looked forward to when I dined at this restaurant. Until.......

the restaurant's chef brought me a bowl of his special soup. Oh my!! It was fabulous!! His mulligatawny soup was, and still is, the best I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, I cannot share his original recipe (the only condition that he gave me when he shared his secret recipe with me) but I have recreated a recipe that is similar to his. My recipe is one that is more suitable for family home dining which can be made with ease while maintaining the tantalizing tastes that he had created.

How did Mulligatawny Soup come about?

There is no true and clear history of mulligatawny soup, but we do know that it has Anglo-Indian origins.If we look at the etymology of the word mulligatawny, it can be translated, in a literal sense, from Tamil (a southern Indian Dravidian language) to mean pepper water.In Tamil, millagu is defined as pepper while tanni is defined as water.

During the 18th century and later, the British were stationed in India during a period that is referred to as the colonial times. With its curry base, hot peppers and robust flavors, mulligatawny soup was extremely popular.Originally, mulligatawny soup was made with stock from chicken, beef or mutton and thickened with meat, cream, coconut milk and/or rice.Many of the British belonged with the East India Company and when they returned home, they brought the recipe back with them to England and to other Commonwealth countries.

Since then, the recipe has undergone many experiments, and hence, there are numerous variations of it.It can be made as a vegetarian dish by substituting the animal stock with vegetable stock, thickening with yogurt instead of cream and adding almonds for a crunchy texture.This recipe is one of the variations but is unique in the sense that is the results of my own experimentation with the recipe.

“I’ll capture them wild and I’ll capture them scrawny, I’ll capture a scraggle-foot mulligatawny.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~Zookeeper Wannabe (excerpt from Dr. Seuss If I Ran the Zoo)

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Serves 6 to 8 guests


  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp. curry powder, more if preferred
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon**
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1 small apple, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • fresh ground pepper

** use vegetable bouillon cubes if you are making a vegetarian version

Preparation and Cooking - General Instructions

  1. Chop onion, carrot, celery and place in large stock pot. Add minced garlic, olive oil and curry. Sauté until soft.
  2. Add bay leaf, water, bouillon cubes and split yellow peas. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  3. Add rice, apple and thyme. Simmer. Remove bay leaf. Add lemon juice, soy sauce and pepper.
  4. Serve hot.

Preparation and Cooking Instructions - Detailed

  1. Pick through dried yellow split peas. Look for rocks, pebbles and other non-edible debris. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside. Picking through the dried split peas and rinsing them are important steps, as explained in my series on Beans, Legumes, and Pulses, which you can access by clicking on the hyperlink.
  2. In a medium sized soup pot, add the olive oil. On medium heat, add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and sauté for an additional 3 minutes while stirring frequently.
  3. Next, add the bay leaf, water, bouillon cubes and split yellow peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until the dried split peas are soft.
  4. Add rice, apple and thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes more. The split peas should be soft and cooked through. Remove the bay leaf.
  5. Add lemon juice, soy sauce and pepper. Stir until well blended. Serve while hot with a side of Sarah's Caesar Salad or with Cheesy Tuna Melt Sandwiches.

Bon apetite!

Copyright Beth100 (Recipe, Text and Photographs)

© May 2012

How to dice onions, carrots, potatoes and celery like a pro!

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