“Mulliga-what?” That’s the reaction that SoupAddict usually receives when people ask the name of the delicious concoction she’s placed before them. This is asked with an accompanying cringe, as though such a name could only mean roasted grubs or fried ants or poached squid. SoupAddict smiles brightly and answers, “It’s the Kramer Soup,” and more often than not, they nod, relieved, remembering the “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld.
It’s pronounced mull-eh-gah-TAH-nee, by the way, and be prepared to have your chicken soup world rocked.
Mulligatawny’s history is sketchy and ethereal. Literally “pepper water,” mulligatawny is sometimes attributed to Indian cuisine, but more likely comes from the Brits, who love Indian food more than meat pies, bless their little stringy-meat-lovin’ hearts.
(SoupAddict would like you to think that she artfully composed this picture with random grains of rice scattered throughout as a prop, but the truth is that the bag got away from her and dumped rice all over everything, including the floor.)
SoupAddict loves Indian spices with her whole heart, and does what it takes to stuff as much flavor into this soup as possible, hence the hokey-pokey with the chicken. That being said, this soup can be as easy or as complicated as you want. Slow-roasted rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, pulled into strips, is a fine substitute when time is short. (SoupAddict adores those bags of rotisserie chicken, as they have saved her keister more than once, and she hopes that you, too, have a grocery store that roasts its own chicken.) If you can’t find fresh lemongrass, just skip it. The dried stuff you find in jars is way-ey-ay past its primedon’t waste your money. If you forget to add the rice early enough, and don’t have 20 minutes to stand around toe-tapping and sighing heavily, just use instant rice, white or brown. It’s all good.
This soup is even better after an overnight stay in the fridge, and freezes well. So, there’s no excuse not to make it.
Mulligatawny Soup, a.k.a The Kramer Soup
|1||teaspoon||curry powder (your choice of hot or mild)|
|1/2||teaspoon||black pepper, freshly ground|
|1 1/2||lbs||chicken, cut into small, thin pieces (a mix of breasts and thighs works well)|
|2||medium||carrots, shaved (or very thinly sliced and chopped)|
|2||teaspoons||curry powder (your choice of hot or mild)|
|1||quart||chicken broth or stock|
|1||stalk||lemongrass, leaves removed, cut into matchsticks and tied into a bundle with kitchen string|
|1||medium||apple, peeled and grated (tart works best, like Granny Smith, but a Honey Crisp is also delicious)|
|1/2||cup||uncooked rice (Jasmine and basmati are favorites, but even instant brown rice will do)|
|salt and pepper, to taste|
Heat the canola oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Meanwhile, combine the flour, garam masala, curry powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken pieces, turning to coat well.
Add the chicken to the pot, and cook until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, scraping up the browned bits. Add the butter.
When the butter is mostly melted, add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, stirring in the browned bits. Saute until soft, about 8 minutes.
Push the vegetables to one side of the pan. Add the flour, garam masala and curry powder to the cleared area. Stir briefly to cook the flour. Add a splash of chicken broth and stir until a paste forms, then mix in with the vegetables. Add the remaining chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to maintain a good simmer. Add the chicken.
Tie the lemongrass bundle to the handle of the pot, or to a long spoon laid across the top of the pot. Make sure the bundle is completely submerged in the soup. Continue simmering for 15 minutes.
Add the apple and rice, stir, and continue simmering for at least as long as the rice requires to fully cook.
Just before serving, remove the lemongrass bundle and discard. Stir in the coconut milk. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper, as necessary.