Mulligatawny soup, a traditional curry soup from India, is fragrant, rich and creamy, just what’s needed to warm you up on a cold winter night.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Mulligatawny soup is hearty and nutritious, and it isn’t difficult to make.

How long it takes: 40 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: Dutch oven or soup pan
Servings: serves 6 (generously)

Mulligatawny soup in a bowl with naan.
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Have you ever tried mulligatawny soup? There are plenty of recipes online to peruse, however, I came up with my own version (and I’m not claiming it’s classic or authentic – but it’s delicious). I tried it out on my family, not really expecting a great review since my hubby isn’t normally a big fan of curry, and mulligatawny is a curry soup.

I was somewhat surprised when he loved it. Maybe he was extra hungry that day or maybe he’s getting used to curry. I test everything out on my family and lately, it’s been curry this and curry that: vegetarian curry with cauliflower & chickpeas, pumpkin curry soup, and squash soup (this one is a Panera copycat). I have a few more curry recipes coming up so keep your eyes peeled for those.

About Mulligatawny Soup

This recipe is a winner! What’s not to like about this soup? It’s thick and creamy, almost like a stew. The seasoning is fragrant and spicy, in a warm and satisfying way, not in your face at all. It’s loaded with healthy lean chicken and good-for-you vegetables, too. My family loves it and I think your family will too!

It’s not difficult to make. One of the things you’ll like about this soup is that you can have it on the table in less than 45 minutes. It’s a pretty uncomplicated recipe. There’s the extra step of making a white sauce but that’s easy and you can do it as the soup cooks so it doesn’t take any extra time.

You can easily adapt the recipe. If you are looking for a non-dairy or vegetarian soup, you’ll find ideas for making those adaptations and others in the Make It Your Own section below, and on the recipe card.

Yellow toned soup on a ladle.

What You’ll Need

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: A good source of lean protein, boneless skinless chicken breasts are diced into bite-sized pieces that cook quickly. If you prefer dark meat, use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead.
  • Onion, Celery, Green Bell Pepper: Sometimes called the “holy trinity”, this trio of savory vegetables is popular in many cultures and is often added to soups and stews to provide a solid flavor base.
  • Granny Smith Apple: This variety is firm, tart, and bright green in color. It adds a bit of fruity sweetness, sort of a surprise ingredient in this soup. If you are unable to find Granny Smith apples, good substitutes are Mutsu (Crispin), Braeburn, Rome, or Jonathan.
  • Garlic: Add fresh garlic to taste. The recipe calls for two cloves.
  • Curry Powder: There are many different blends of curry powder, in fact, you can easily make your own curry powder. Choose your favorite, either hot or mild.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: These dried flakes add spicy heat to this recipe. Mulligatawny soup traditionally is a pepper soup but this recipe is not mouth-tingling hot. If you prefer a milder flavor, use less red pepper flakes.
  • Stock or Broth: Look for low or no salt broth to reduce the level of sodium.
  • Long Grain White Rice: A long grain rice is best for the soup. Shorter grain rice tends to get too mushy and disintegrates.
  • Butter, Flour, Milk: To make the soup creamy, you’ll stir up an easy white sauce to add near the end of the cooking time.
  • Fresh Parsley, optional: A handful of fresh herbs is always a welcome addition to soup.
Ingredients needed for recipe.

How to make Mulligatawny Soup

You’ll need a large soup pan or Dutch oven, and also a smaller saucepan for the white sauce.

Prep the ingredients before you get started. Begin by chopping the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Peel the apple and chop it into small pieces. Mince the garlic. Set all of that aside for a minute, and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Cutting Board Tip

I have a separate cutting board made out of synthetic material (not wood) that I use solely for meat preparation. This is a good practice because you don’t want to cross-contaminate your food with bacteria that may be in the raw meat. After cutting the meat, I put the cutting board immediately into the dishwasher or hot soapy water.

Let’s get cooking! Heat up a little oil in the pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, vegetables, and apple.

Vegetables and chicken cooking in pan.

Add a dash of salt to the pan and cook the chicken and veggies, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about five minutes.

Vegetables and chicken cooking.

Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and curry powder.

Curry powder added to pan.

Cook and stir for a minute or so, until the garlic smells wonderful and the seasonings coat the vegetables and chicken.

Chicken and vegetables coated with seasoning.

Pour in the chicken stock, a can of tomatoes (undrained), and rice. Stir well and bring the contents of the pan to a simmer. Turn the heat down and simmer the soup until the rice is tender and cooked, about 20 minutes.

Rice, vegetables, broth in pan.

While the soup is simmering, make a white sauce in a separate pan. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter, add the flour, and stir over low heat until the mixture is smooth and a bit bubbly.

Butter and flour being whisked.

Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring pretty much constantly, until the mixture comes to a low boil. It will be thick and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

White sauce in a pan.

When the rice is tender, stir the white sauce into the soup.

White sauce added to soup.

Doesn’t that look so yummy? Take a moment to check the seasonings. Add a bit of salt, if necessary, or stir in more curry powder, if you like.

Soup in a large pot.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with warm naan bread. If you like homemade bread, try making your own flatbread. The recipe is really pretty uncomplicated and the bread is so good.


Why is it called mulligatawny soup?

According to to Sanjay Thumma on his website, Vahrehvah, mulligatawny soup is India’s national soup. A literal translation from Tamil, is “pepper water”: milagu means pepper; thanni means water. Traditional recipes often include a handful of peppercorns or green chiles.
A (very brief) history: The soup has a British influence. During the time of British rule in India, soldiers demanded a hearty soup course. Servants came up with this variation of pepper water, a Sri Lankan stew, with chicken and/or mutton. Still popular today, there are many versions of mulligatawny soup.

Make It Your Own

Mulligatawny on a spoon.

Make-Ahead Ideas

While this is a pretty easy recipe to make, you can save some time if you prep the veggies and apple ahead. They can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for at least a day.

Storage & Reheating Tips

Refrigerate/Freeze: Leftover soup should be refrigerated promptly in a covered container. It will keep for three to four days. Creamy soups generally do not freeze well. If you would like to freeze this soup, either omit the white sauce or add it after thawing the soup.

Reheat: Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave; larger amounts can be warmed up in a saucepan over medium heat until steaming hot.

Meal plan 61, a budget meal plan, preview with recipe photos and text.

Free Meal Plan

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Hearty Soup Recipes


Mulligatawny Soup Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Mulligatawny soup, a traditional curry soup from India, is fragrant, rich and creamy, perfect to warm you up on a cold winter night.
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup finely diced celery (2 to 3 stalks)
  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 apple)
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium)
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper (about ½ pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth (low sodium)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
  • Naan bread for serving


  • Over medium high heat, heat oil in a large soup pan or Dutch oven. Add chicken, celery, green apple, onion, green pepper and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder, and red pepper flakes; cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, tomatoes, and rice; bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour, cook until bubbly. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat.
  • When rice is done, gradually stir milk mixture into the soup. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.


  • Nutrition information is calculated using 2% milk. Each serving is roughly 1¾ cups of soup. 
  • Make the soup nondairy and gluten-free. Eliminate the white sauce that is added at the end of the cooking time (flour, butter, milk). The soup is excellent without it. Another option is to replace the white sauce with a can of coconut milk.
  • Vegetarian: Omit the chicken and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. If desired, add a half cup of red or yellow lentils.



Serving: 1.75cups, Calories: 334kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 698mg, Potassium: 903mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 538IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 158mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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