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Overhead photo of a bowl of mulligatawny soup with cilantro and coconut milk and lemon zest with brown rice on the side and soup spoons.
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5 from 11 votes

Mulligatawny Soup

A recipe for Mulligatawny Soup that's comforting, delicious, healthy and perfect for this time of year. Red lentils and seasonal veggies like fennel and carrots blend into a pepper-spice and ginger-garlic flavored broth. A splash of coconut milk adds a creamy finishing touch. This soup is great for you with all those herbs and spices that are known to protect the respiratory system. It is also everyone friendly because it's vegan, soy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main/Soup
Cuisine: British Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Mulligatawny Soup
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 138kcal


  • 1 large pot or Dutch oven with lid
  • Blender or immersion blender


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tablespoon black peppercorns (reduce to up to a teaspoon if sensitive to heat, but don't skip)
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced or crushed)
  • 1-inch knob ginger (finely chopped or crushed. You can replace the ginger and garlic above with 1 heaping tablespoon of ginger garlic paste)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne (use less if sensitive to heat, or skip)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • tablespoons besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 medium carrot (chopped in ½-inch pieces or rings)
  • 1 small potato (diced in ½-inch cubes)
  • 1 fennel bulb (or apple. Chopped)
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • 4-5 cups vegetable stock (or water with 2 teaspoon vegetable bouillon)
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (for garnish)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

For serving

  • White or brown rice


  • Soak the lentils in water before you begin the rest of the cooking. This is not absolutely necessary but it speeds up the time needed to tenderize the lentils a bit. Drain the lentils before you add them to the rest of the soup.
  • Heat the coconut oil. Add the curry leaves followed by the whole spices--cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and peppercorns. Saute for a couple of minutes over medium heat until fragrant.
  • Stir in the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes until they soften but don't brown. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute.
  • Add the powdered spices: cayenne, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Stir to mix.
  • Stir in the besan or chickpea flour and saute for a minute so it toasts.
  • Add the vegetables to the pot--carrot, potato and fennel. Add a dash of salt and mix well. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the lentils to the pot along with three cups of vegetable stock. I don't add all five cups of veg stock at once because it is a pain to get all that soupy stock into the blender. Instead, I add a cup or two more of stock while blending, which also helps cool down the soup a bit when added to the blender.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover with a tight lid, and cook 10-15 minutes until all the veggies are tender and the lentils have cooked.
  • Carefully, working in batches if needed, transfer the soup to a blender. You can also just use an immersion blender. Add a cup of stock and puree until very smooth.
  • At this point you can strain the soup for an even silkier texture, but I prefer to just use it as is. Pour the soup back into the pot. Add up to a cup more water if needed--I add it as I like my mulligatawny on the soupy side. Bring to a boil, then stir in the coconut milk.
  • Warm through without bringing to a boil. Turn off the heat and ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with rice, a bit of chopped cilantro and lemon zest and spritz on some lemon juice if you like.


  • If you don't have the whole spices, use garam masala instead. Add it to the pot just before you stir in the coconut milk.
  • This soup has just 13 grams of net carbs per serving. If you are eating low-carb, skip the potato, which will bring down the net carbs to 10 grams. Instead of rice, serve the soup with cauliflower rice.
  • Peppercorns are the star ingredient in this recipe, so don't skip them. If you need to cut down on the heat, you can go as low as 1 teaspoon or even ½ tsp. 
  • You need the sweetness of the carrots and fennel to tamp down some of the heat from the spices. You can replace the fennel with an apple, if that's what you have.
  • The coconut milk adds a nice, creamy touch but you can leave it out if you want to cut down on the fat in the recipe. The soup is creamy enough without it.
  • Make sure your mulligatawny is soupy, not thick and gloppy. And be sure to blend it so you don't have chunky veggies floating around in it. The consistency of a mulligatawny should be on the thin side (pepper water, remember?). The veggies and a spot of chickpea flour or besan added to the soup will ensure that it is full-bodied and not watery.
  • Although this is not traditional, I like topping the soup with some lemon zest and even squirting on some lemon juice over the soup in the bowl while serving. The lemon gives an added vitamin C boost to protect from colds and viruses, helps mellow the heat down a bit more, and tastes wonderful.


Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 497mg | Potassium: 444mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1656IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg