Mulligatawny Soup

This is a delicious addition to my soup repertoire, and heaven knows I need some newbies since winter/soup season lasts interminably long around these parts.

If you aren’t familiar with Mulligatawny soup, there are a million versions out there, but for our purposes here today, think of a classic chicken, veggie, and rice soup flavored with a bit of curry and dotted with tender, tart apples. I know the combination may sound strange but this soup is unbelievably delicious. Even my tentative don’t-put-fruit-in-my-main-dish husband was wowed over by the apples. They add a sweet, bright contrast to the hearty soup.

Thickened with a simple roux, the soup isn’t overly glumpy and sludgy – instead, thanks to the last-minute addition of cream, it becomes velvety, smooth and stays nice and soupy. We had it for leftovers the next night and the flavors had developed into an even tastier concoction. The soup was a bit thicker the next day so instead of eating it with spoons, we scooped it up with saltine crackers and licked our fingers along the way. That’s kind of how we roll around these parts.

Thanks, Christiana (and your sister, Melanie!), for the recipe!

What To ServeA really, great dinner roll (for homemade, I’d suggest French Bread Rolls or Buttery Cornmeal Crescents)
Fresh fruit or a light fruit salad like this Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Cottage Cheese

One Year Ago: Asian Chicken Salad with Hoisin Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago: Chicken with Green Curry Sauce
Three Years Ago: Orange Rolls – Reposted

Mulligatawny Soup

Yield: Serves 6-8

Mulligatawny Soup

Note: this recipe makes use of already cooked rice and chicken so plan accordingly!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots, about 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup thinly chopped celery, about 3 stalks
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or 1 tablespoon hot curry powder
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ Granny Smith or other tart apple, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups cooked rice, white or brown
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken, about 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ cup whipping cream


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Add the onion, carrots and celery, and cook, stirring often, until they are slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the flour and curry and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the broth until well combined and bring the soup to a simmer.
  2. Cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes. Add the chopped apple, rice, chicken, salt, thyme, and pepper. Simmer 8-10 minutes longer, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cream, warm the soup through, and serve.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Christiana, a reader, who got it from her sister, Melanie

43 Responses to Mulligatawny Soup

  1. Doreen says:

    This stuff is IN.SANE. Sooooo good! My husband doesn’t care for curry, but he didn’t complain when I made it twice in a week… and again the next week. Also made it for some friends with a new baby – it freezes well and met rave reviews there too. Thanks Mel! My new favourite!

  2. […] Recipe source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  3. […] a double batch of mulligatawny soup with some of the shredded chicken. I used a recipe from this blog. Instead of rice, I substituted […]

  4. Anne-Marie says:

    Wow, what a hearty, healthy and delicious recipe. I just made it for the second time (substituting coconut milk for the cream and barley for the rice) and oh my, I think this is my favourite soup. My hubby kept relishing me with compliments and my 13-month old daughter devoured it… all thanks to you Mel. Merci!

  5. ChrissieK says:

    SO. I’ve already responded regarding this recipe. It CONTINUES to be such a family favorite! Last night, I started making it and realized I didn’t have any chicken (horrid pre-planning) but I had some boneless ribs! I changed the stock to beef stock and then made it with the ribs…. the yums were heard all across our sweet city. If anyone wants to change it up a bit, using beef is a fun “different!”

  6. stephanie says:

    I made this last night for the second time and still loved it! My 8 month old devoured the soup – and we had thought the curry would be too much for him (he’s not a fan of spicy foods – what are we to do!?). Instead of dicing the chicken this time, I used some shredded chicken I had in the freezer, and the texture was great. I made the soup with your drop biscuits, which was my first time making biscuits. So easy and so delicious. Today for my son’s lunch I poured some leftover soup over the biscuits, it was so soggy and good that I kept stealing bites!

  7. Sarah Jane says:

    Mel, made this last weekend with a couple changes to suit our taste, and we are making it again this weekend!! So good and hearty. I used light coconut milk vs. the cream, added a bit of lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, and tomato paste. Just gives it that depth of flavor for me. But great, wonderful, awesome, amazing base! Thank you so much. I continue to love your recipes as I try them.

  8. Yum! Ate too much, my belly is too full 🙂

  9. Liz says:

    This is so very good. I have made it three times, twice with guests and everyone always loves it! Thank you for sharing it. I love all your recipes and am glad I found your site. I’ve problably made at least 12 of your recipes already!

  10. Cory says:

    This. Soup. Was. Delicious!

    My wife and I made it for our family of 5 last night and it was so good. It just moved to #1 on my favorite soups list. Gotta love mulligatawny soup…it reminds me of the Seinfeld Soup Nazi!

  11. Wendy says:

    We absolutely loved this soup and it was so quick and easy – what can be better?? Thanks!!

  12. Abby says:

    Made this last night and it was great!! Thanks for posting.

  13. Shandra says:

    Melanie, I swear we live in the same world of food blog brain. I have had this soup on my menu planner list for the past week or so and have been dying to try it. I love when I think of a recipe I want to make and then you do all the work and try one out for me! Thanks! If you want to try another different soup, visit my blog for a African Spicy Chicken Peanut soup. It sounds so weird but was actually really good! Who would think peanut butter in soup could be good.

    Any-who..thanks for a great blog and delicious new recipes when I need them!!

  14. Danielle says:

    I’m on a new recipe kick, and yours are fitting the bill quite nicely. I made this last night, and my husband and daughter were fighting over the leftovers for lunch. I made it with cashew cream instead of cream for my daughter, who slurped up several bowls. This is a definite winner. You are awesome!

  15. grace says:

    i was never really sure what mulligatawny soup contained, but i knew it existed because it’s a word that stuck in my brain. awesome word, awesome soup.

  16. amy says:

    You convinced me to make this by saying that your no-fruit-mixed-in-with-dinner-husband liked it, even with the apples. My husband LOVED IT! And my 4 year old daughter did, too! Thanks for a wonderful recipe!!!

  17. JaNae says:

    I made this last night and LOVED it. Thanks for the recipe. My confidence in trying your recipes continues to increase, as ALL the ones I have tried have been excellent! Thank you!

  18. Wow, this sounds delicious – such a wonderful hearty soup for cold weather days!

  19. Christiana says:

    Mel-I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

  20. Cat says:

    I’m just wondering …. I’m not a fan of curry. Does this have a very strong curry taste? How much could I reduce the curry so that it still has a nice flavour. I don’t mind “some” curry but not a strong smell or taste.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Cat – I don’t think this is overwhelming with curry flavor, but it definitely has curry undertones. Based on what you said, I would reduce the curry to 1 teaspoon and add 1 teaspoon of paprika to help boost flavor.

  21. Soup sure does do the trick on a cold winter day, and mixing it up with some spice variations and textures is a great way to go. Love the curry and apples in this one!

  22. Tessa says:

    You have me convinced. I love many of your soup recipes and will have to give this one a try!

  23. Missy says:

    I’ve been dying for a new soup recipe. This looks so good and we love curry. Going to make a swap and put it on
    My meal list this week! Can’t wait!

  24. How interesting! I’ve always heard of this soup but never seen the ingredient list! Sounds great 🙂

  25. ChrissieK says:

    HOLEY MOLEY! As I was putting the ingredients all together for this soup, I was a bit skeptical and nervous about how it would end up tasting. (being 8 months preggo — I was quite NERVOUS!) I ended up using Melanie’s suggestion of more olive oil than you used, Mel (sorry) –my family consumed it like banshee’s!!!!! My boys (6 and 4) had two bowls EACH… my daughter (2) ate her WHOLE portion and me and the hubinator, well, let’s just say we indulged. Mel, this is unbelievably GOOD. It will be a staple in this house.

    • Mel says:

      ChrissieK – glad you loved this and don’t be sorry about adding the extra oil. You are pregnant and can justify it! Sadly, I am not and had to try and cut calories somewhere. 🙂 I’m happy this was a hit!

  26. Danielle says:

    Liza- My daughter is also allergic to dairy. I’ve been using cashew cream instead of cream in things and it works wonderfully. It is super easy to make.

    • Mel says:

      Danielle and Liza – thanks for chiming in on this issue, Danielle. To be honest, I think the soup would be fine without the cream completely. It helps to add a silky dimension but you could get by without it, especially for a dairy allergy. The soup would be even more like a chicken and rice soup – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  27. Jen M says:

    I will be trying this VERY soon. Can’t wait!

  28. Jeanette says:

    This reminds me of seinfeld and the soup nazi!

  29. Holli says:

    This looks really really good…. curry always makes everything taste better!

  30. Liza says:

    How do you think this would be without cream? (My daughter is allergic to dairy…)

  31. Jenny says:

    This looks like it’s pretty easy and looks so rich and good. I don’t know why, but I always thought this soup was complicated to make. I’m going to try this. Thanks.

  32. Melanie says:

    You’re welcome! We love it so much, and I was just the star of our church soup-tasting night. I have to say, just fyi, that I got it from my friend Michelle, with some tweaking of my own over the last 6 years. It feels weird to see it here. I have to say, also, that if the readers do put the 3/4 cup olive oil that mine had, then cook it for 3 min. with the flour & curry, they will have an undeniably delicious Indian flavor, because the oil & flour will form the soup base, with no oil floating on the top. Happy cooking, and I love this recipe site!

  33. Kim in MD says:

    I have never had Mulligatawny soup. It looks delicious, and very interesting with the addition of the apples and the curry powder! I am going to have to try this!

  34. queenann says:

    Sorry to say this, but you NEED to make Cook’s Illustrated’s mulligatawny recipe. I made it for the first time this week, and it is SO amazingly good. It has a distinctly Indian flavor. Very delicious. Try it some time. And I will try this version.

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