Time for hot soup!

This is the time of year when hot soup is most welcome (to ease the hacking and coughing and general misery that also often shows up this time of year). One of our favorites is Mulligatawny, a British adaptation of Indian mixtures of dal (lentils) and vegetables. So we thought we'd share our version of Mulligatawny. It does require a few more spices than many American recipes, but they add to both the complexity of flavor and to the healthy benefits. This makes a large pot, so you can freeze half or more for later use. I have two pint jars of Mulligatawny in the freezer right now.

4 tbsp butter or ghee divided in half or 1/4 cup oil (also divided into two portions)

Whole spices
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

Chopped spices and vegetables
3 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ginger powder)
4 cloves garlic, minced (you can use more or less garlic, as taste dictates)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large or two medium carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 medium to large apple, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
1 or 2 small Roma-type tomatoes, chopped
One pound, more or less, chopped chicken (thighs or whatever you have)
1/2 medium jalapeƱo pepper or one whole birds-eye (Thai) green chilli pepper, minced

Ground spices and remaining ingredients for soup
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock (two of the 1-quart shelf-stable cartons)
1 cup lentils (red lentils-masoor dal-are traditional, but you can use any kind)

Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup canned coconut milk (optional)
3 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice (I prefer lime juice, but either one is optional)
Yogurt and chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish


I used my small food processor for most of the vegetables this time, rather than chopping them. That gave a rather different texture to the soup than you will get with larger pieces of the vegetables. I haven't decided whether to do that again, but it did save time.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil, butter or ghee (or any combination of those) in a frying pan and add the whole spices (cumin, coriander, mustard). Heat until fragrant.

Heat the remaining butter or oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Cook the chicken until just beginning to turn brown. Add Jalapeno pepper, tomato, ginger, garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the garlic and onion are translucent.

Add the powdered spices (cumin, coriander and turmeric) and cook for two or three minutes more.

At this point, the mixtures could be placed in a slow cooker, or the slow cooker setting in an electric pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot. Do not use the pressure setting!

Add the chicken or vegetable stock, the apple, sweet potato and lentils and increase heat just until the liquid begins to simmer (occasional bubbles, not a hard roiling boil). Cook until lentils and sweet potato are tender, about 45-50 minutes. Add coconut milk and lemon juice if desired (the coconut milk will make the soup more creamy). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with plain yogurt and finely chopped fresh cilantro, and if you like, with bread. A crusty bread such as you would serve with spaghetti would be appropriate, or the more traditional naan or paratha.

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