Mulligatawny soup is an Indo-British curry soup loaded with chicken, vegetables, red lentils, apples and coconut cream. Thick, creamy and comforting, this soup will drive away the chill of fall and winter days. Made in 30 minutes in the instant pot!
Nothing like soup to beat the chill in the air. Isn't there something totally satisfying about setting a pot of soup to cook and then slurping it all up with some warm crusty bread on the side? Makes for a hearty and very satisfying meal. And if it's a chunky Mulligatawny soup with curry powder and dollops of coconut cream stirred into it? I can't seem to get enough of this comfort food!
There is another soup recipe on the blog that you can check out if you like the combination of chicken and vegetables in soups. Unlike Mulligatawny soup, this Instant Pot Chicken and Vegetable Soup is smooth as silk and and you can literally drink it from a mug if you're so inclined!
What is Mulligatawny soup?
Mulligatawny soup has its origins in South Indian cuisine, and the name comes from two Tamil words meaning pepper water. The original recipe for mulligatawny was thin and made with vegetables, Madras curry and coconut. It became fashionable when the British took a fancy to it during the days of colonial rule in India. They made several modifications to it, one of them being the addition of meat.
In its present avatar, therefore, mulligatawny is a fusion soup of sorts. It is a slightly thick soup with bright and spicy Indian flavors. It is also quite wholesome since there is no heavy cream or white flour to spoil the fun.
Chicken Mulligatawny Soup in the Instant Pot: an easy recipe
I've used my trusty instant pot to make this recipe. It can, of course, be made in a regular pressure cooker, slow cooker or in a saucepan on the stove top, but I find it very convenient to make soups in the instant pot. No watching over the pot while the soup is cooking and no fear that the contents will boil over or run out of liquid and burn.
Plus you don't have to wait for hours before you get to eat it. It's made in exactly 30 minutes with absolutely no compromise in taste. What's not to love?
That being said, I included stovetop instructions recently since not everyone has an instant pot. So, if you prefer to make this mulligatawny recipe in a saucepan, you can adapt this recipe to the stovetop with no confusion:)
- White onion, chopped
- Garlic cloves, chopped
- Carrots, chopped
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces
- Red lentils, rinsed - if you don't like red lentils, add white rice instead.
- Royal Gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped - green apple can also be used.
- Madras curry powder - this is a little different from your regular curry powder thanks to the addition of red chili peppers.
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Chicken or vegetable broth
- Coconut cream - can be substituted with coconut milk
- Fresh parsley, for garnishing
- Dried oregano, for garnishing
- Crushed red chilli flakes, for garnishing (optional)
- Lemon juice, optional
- Sea salt, to taste
- Fresh cilantro or parsley
Note: exact quantities of these ingredients are given in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to make Mulligatawny soup in the instant pot
1. Chop the onion, carrots, garlic, apples (core and peel apples before chopping them).
2. Cut the chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces.
1. Press the saute function on your instant pot and keep it on normal (medium heat). Add butter and when it melts, add onion, garlic and carrots. Fry these veggies for 2 or 3 minutes until they are slightly soft and fragrant.
2. Add chicken, red lentils, curry powder, black pepper powder and salt. Saute for 2 or 3 minutes until the chicken loses its raw, pink color and turns white. Don't worry, it will be fully cooked later, we are just stir frying it a bit to seal in the juices. Add a few splashes of water if you find that the chicken is sticking to the pot.
3. Add the chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and finally the apples. Cancel saute and press the pressure cooking button (high pressure). Set the timer for 10 minutes. Once the timer beeps, wait for 10 minutes, then release the steam.
4. Open the pot and stir in the coconut cream. If the soup appears to be a bit thin, simmer it on saute (normal) for 5 minutes.
5. Take it out in bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, fresh chilli flakes and oregano. Squeeze some lemon juice as well if you want an extra kick in your soup. Serve with warm, crusty bread on the side.
1. Follow the sautéing steps (1-2) as in the instant pot.
2. After you have added the chicken broth and apples (step 3), lower the heat and cook the soup for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it as and don't forget to stir the soup regularly.
3. You might want to add a little more broth or water towards the end as more liquid evaporates in an open pan than in a pressure cooker.
4. Once the chicken is tender, switch off the heat and add the coconut cream. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, fresh chilli flakes, oregano and lemon juice. Serve hot!
Why this recipe works
1. Mulligatawny soup is incredibly creamy, rich and flavorful thanks to the unique combination of ingredients. Chicken, carrots, apples, lentils, broth, coconut cream and spices come together in a beautiful medley to make one hearty and filling soup.
2. The name is long but the cooking steps are not! Even novice cooks can make this easy, 30-minute recipe quite painlessly.
3. It's a healthy, nourishing kinda soup. Again, take a look at the ingredient list. Need I say more?
More instant pot soup recipes
- Potato Soup - Made with the humble russet potato, this thick and chunky vegetarian soup has readily available ingredients like carrots, onions and garlic. Dashes of butter and cream add a lovely texture and richness to it!
- Pumpkin Soup without cream - Tastes just as good as with it. In fact, you won’t miss the cream at all. With warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and a dash of maple syrup, this thick soup is so perfect for chilly fall days and holidays.
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup - Broccoli and cheese are made for each other and when they come together in a creamy soup, it's pure comfort in a bowl.
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup - A crazy good, lick-the-bowl-clean kind of soup. And no wonder. With lots of beautiful ingredients like boneless chicken, mushrooms, carrots, onions and celery simmering away in a creamy broth, it's bound to emerge a winner.
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 1 white onion medium-sized, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 carrots medium-sized, chopped
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup red lentils rinsed
- 2 Royal Gala apples small, peeled, cored and chopped
- 2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper ground
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoon coconut cream
- 1 sprig cilantro or parsley for garnishing
- 1 teaspoon oregano for garnishing
- ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes optional, for garnishing
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice optional
- 1 teaspoon sea salt adjust to taste
- Chop the onion, carrots, garlic, and apples (core and peel apples before chopping).
- Cut the chicken breasts into small bite-sized pieces.
- Press sauté on your instant pot and melt the butter. Add onion, garlic and carrots. Fry the vegetables for 2 or 3 minutes until they are slightly soft and fragrant.
- Add chicken, red lentils, Madras curry powder, black pepper powder and salt. Sauté for 2 or 3 minutes until the chicken loses its raw, pink color and turns white. Add a few splashes of water if you find that the chicken is sticking to the pot.
- Add chicken or vegetable broth and finally the apples. Cancel sauté and close the lid. Make sure the steam release handle is sealed. Hit pressure cooking (high) for 10 minutes. When the timer beeps, wait for 10 minutes and release pressure.
- Open the pot and stir in the coconut cream. If the soup appears to be a bit thin, simmer it on saute (normal) for 5 minutes.
- Take it out in bowls and garnish with chopped parsley, fresh chilli flakes and oregano. Squeeze some lemon juice as well if you want an extra kick in your soup. Serve with warm, crusty bread on the side.
- Follow the prep and sautéing steps as in the instant pot.
- After you have added the chicken broth and apples (step 3), lower the heat and cook the soup for 25-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it as and don't forget to stir the soup regularly.
- You might want to add a little more broth or water towards the end as more liquid evaporates in an open pan than in a pressure cooker.
- Once the chicken is tender, switch off the heat and add the coconut cream. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, fresh chilli flakes, oregano and lemon juice. Serve hot!
- If you cannot find coconut cream, you can use ½ cup full-fat coconut milk also..
- If you don't like red lentils, add half a cup of white rice instead.
- Madras curry powder adds color and warmth to the soup, so don't skip it. It can be found easily in most supermarkets these days.
- I used Royal Gala apples in this recipe. You can also use green apples if you wish.
Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!
I made this and it was delicious. Haven’t had it before or can’t recall, but we enjoyed it.
Great! Glad you liked it, Daisy.
How would this recipe be adapted to stove top or regular pressure cooker?
Daisy, for regular pressure cookers, I would pressure cook for 8 minutes only after 1 whistle and release pressure after 10 minutes. Stovetop pressure cookers reach higher temps than the instant pot so they take less time in cooking food. The rest of the steps remain the same. For cooking in a saucepan, I would cook on medium heat initially, and once you've added the broth, simmer for 30-40 minutes on low heat, stirring every now and then. Hope that helps.
Would leaving out the lentils change this soup too much? I don't care for lentils, but this soup sounds amazing.
Well, lentils do make the soup a little thick and add to the taste, but if you don't care for lentils, try adding 1/4 cup rice instead. This soup is made with rice as well, so you might like that.
I don't think you would even notice the lentils.
I’m in the process of making this and am puzzled by the amount of liquid. How can only two 1/2 cups of broth and 2 tbsp. Coconut cream make 6 servings?
Linda, you're right, it serves 4 with a little over half a cup being the serving size. I'll make the change in the recipe.Thanks for pointing it out.
Elena Rosenthal says
Made this for my Son who just moved out on his own. Sadly he does not own an instant pot
How does this adapt to the stovetop version?
He is over the top in love with this recipe
Elena, if you want to make it on the stovetop, follow the sautéing steps as in the instant pot. Then instead of pressure cooking it, lower the heat and cook for 25 -30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The carrots, red lentils and apples will anyway turn quite soft in this time. Keep stirring it often and make sure that there's enough liquid. Add more broth towards the end if you don't want a very thick soup since there will be more evaporation in an open pan. Hope that helps:)
I made this and found that the lentils did indeed just go to mush. They add thickness and nutrition, but no strong flavour.
A nice mild, thick, filling soup. I like the bit of sweetness from the apple. The only change that I made is to cut down the curry powder a little as I don't care for it too strong. But it would have been ok using the full amount. Tasted even better after sitting for two or three days. I didn't freeze it as it didn't make a lot, but it seems freezer friendly
Any suggestions for a substitute for the chicken to make it vegetarian?
Try adding more vegetables - mushrooms and celery would work well. If you are not averse to soy, you could add soy chunks as well.
Loved the "Instant Pot" concept and the lentils did virtually disappear. Unfortunately, we found it terribly bland so the sweetness was just strange. We'll try again with at least triple the curry and pepper (maybe the tsp should have been Tbsp) plus mushrooms and celery and more broth! P.S. Your "Privacy Checkbox" is unidentified and most annoying when trying to post a comment!
Dave, thank you so much for the honest feedback. I really appreciate that you took the time to post these observations. I will definitely look into the privacy checkbox. Thanks!
What modifications do you recommend for this as a slow cooker soup recipe? I don't have an instant pot available to me, sadly.
I'm so sorry, but I've never made soup in a slow cooker, so I won't be able to help you on this one:(
What if you hate the taste of coconut? Can you use half & half?