This hearty vegetarian Mulligatawny soup is a healthy and filling soup that is perfect on a cold winters day. Fragrant with curry powder, and rich from coconut milk, this British-Indian soup is made from carrots and lentils and is an economical soup. Ready in under an hour, this soup is popular with all the family.
I have been making this veggie mulligatawny soup for friends and family for years, and often get asked for the recipe. I have been meaning to post the recipe for a while…finally, here it is! This beautiful soup has a slight tartness from apple which balances out the rich coconut milk and sweet carrot, and fragrant background spices from curry powder and additional spices.
What is Mulligatawny Soup?
Mulligatawny soup originated in South India. The name originates from the words, milagu, and tanni, literally translating to ‘pepper water.’ Many southern Indian versions include lentils, as well as onions and spices, and some versions contain rice or can be served over rice. It was later on – with British influences – that it began to include meat. The use of curry powder reflects the British influence too.
Why we love this recipe
- Vegetable mulligatawny is a vegan and gluten free soup. Traditionally, cream would be used instead of coconut milk.
- Packed with vegetables and lentils, it is a kid friendly soup too. The curry spice is not overpowering, similar in heat to my spiced carrot and lentil soup which is always popular with kids.
- Like a traditional Indian curry, any soup leftovers taste even better the following day. It also makes this lentil mulligatawny soup a great recipe for batch cooking.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient quantities.
- Oil – a neutral oil like sunflower oil or vegetable oil.
- Carrots – two medium or one large carrot. This recipe is ideal for using up wilting carrots.
- Onion – brown onion / yellow onion.
- Ginger – fresh ginger, finely grated or store bought crushed ginger.
- Garlic – fresh garlic or store bought ready minced / chopped garlic.
- Apple – a tart apple such as Granny Smith works well. It gives the soup a sweet-sour taste.
- Celery – adds another layer of flavour, but if you don’t want to buy a bunch of celery then add another carrot.
- Red Lentils – split red lentils don’t require any soaking and cook quickly.
- Stock / broth – vegetable stock or homemade vegetable stock. If you aren’t making a vegan mulligatawny soup then you can use chicken stock.
- Tomato paste – concentrated tomato paste.
- Mild curry powder – I like to use Keen’s curry powder in Australia, use a mild curry powder to give fragrance rather than heat.
- Spices – ground cumin, paprika, ground turmeric. All add their distinct fragrant flavour.
- Coconut milk – I prefer to use a full fat coconut milk for richness. If you use light coconut milk the soup can be more watery in texture, so add a little less stock.
How to make vegetable mulligatawny soup from scratch
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe.
- Saute the onion in a medium saucepan over a low heat until soft.
- Add the ginger and cook briefly before adding the diced carrots, celery and the garlic. Place the lid on the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have started to soften.
- Add the chopped apple, tomato puree, curry powder, ground cumin, paprika and ground turmeric and cook for a minute,
- Tip in the red lentils and 1 litre / 4 c of the stock and stir.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables and lentils are tender. If the soup is catching on the bottom of the pan or looking too thick, add a little more stock.
- Pour in the coconut milk and gently heat through (without boiling as this can cause the coconut milk to split), then blend with a hand blender until smooth. Check for salt, adding a little if needed. Serve.
Variations of Mulligatawny soup are made with chicken stock and often also contain chicken. This version however, doesn’t contain any meat.
Whilst it has a slight kick to it, Mulligatawny is not spicy.
My recipe tips
- Cook the vegetables over a low heat to get the most flavour from them, don’t be tempted to cook them over a high heat.
- Use a good stock for the best flavour.
- If you want to have a little texture to the soup, keep 1-2 cups aside before blending and blend the rest of the soup then add the rest of the soup back in.
- For an Indian inspired meal, some fluffy homemade naan or chapati. You could also stir in a spoonful or two of cooked rice to make a filling meal.
- Sprinkle with homemade croutons, pangrattato (Italian breadcrumbs) or serve with a slice of garlic bread on the side.
Fridge: this soup will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer: lentil mulligatawny will freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
- Without coconut milk – you can add a little heavy / thickened cream instead of coconut milk.
- Other vegetables: Pumpkin, butternut, red pepper / capsicum, or a little sweet potato would be delicious in this soup.
Ideas for leftover ingredients
- Celery – lentil ragu, lentil bolognese
- Coconut Milk – cauliflower and chickpea curry, spinach and chickpea curry
- Red lentils – red lentil lasagne, pasta sauce, or carrot lentil soup.
- Mild curry powder – I use curry powder in my cooking a lot! From spiced roasted parsnips, to coronation chicken, carrot pumpkin soup to satay pumpkin curry.
Why not try…
You may also like these other family friendly vegan soup recipes:
Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup
- 1 medium saucepan with lid
- ½ Tablespoon oil neutral oil like sunflower or vegetable
- 1 onion diced
- 2cm (⅔ inch) ginger finely grated
- 2 carrots diced (approx 250g / 9oz)
- 1 Stick celery diced
- 2 Cloves garlic crushed
- 1 apple peeled, cored and diced
- 1 Tablespoon tomato puree / tomato paste
- 2 Teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ Teaspoon paprika
- ½ Teaspoon ground turmeric
- 75g (⅓ c) red lentils
- 1-1¼ litres (4-5 c) stock
- 250ml (1 c) coconut milk
- salt to taste
- Fry the diced onion in the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat until soft, around 5-7 minutes.
- Add the ginger and cook for a minute, before adding the diced carrots, celery and the crushed garlic. Place the lid on the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the vegetables have started to soften.
- Add the chopped apple, tomato puree, curry powder, ground cumin, paprika and ground turmeric and cook for a minute, before adding the red lentils and 1 litre / 4 c of the stock.
- Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down slightly and simmer for 30 minutes, until the vegetables and lentils are tender. If the soup is catching on the bottom of the pan or looking too thick, add a little more of the stock.
- Pour in the coconut milk and heat through – without boiling as this can cause the coconut milk to split – then blend with a hand blender or blender until smooth. Check for salt, adding a little if needed.
- Serve straight away.
- Can store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze.