Mulligatawny Soup


When it comes to Indian cuisine, I have standards.

I earned my bachelor’s degree at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas (yes, it’s not technically located in Dallas) and that particular corner of the DFW metroplex happens to be swarming with Indian eateries. Thus far I’ve always been disappointed by my efforts to recreate the creamy, spicy, meaty favorites from the university days in my home kitchen, but this soup breaks the losing streak. It’s a delicious soup with a funny name and a bit of a history: apparently the British took a thin, spicy lentil broth that was popular in India at the time of colonization, thickened it and added meat. Whatever, all you need to know is that it’s wicked good. Stupid good. Far more delicious than its simple parts (broth, sweet potatoes, ground meat, spices) might lead you to expect.

One note about the full cast of spices included in this recipe and my South African Curried Meatloaf: if you’re partial to Indian or related regional cuisine, then it’s just worth it to make an investment of time and funds in building up a spice collection that lets you whip up exotic ethnic dishes without the need to run to specialty shops every time. It was a fantastic feeling to find a Mulligatawny recipe in Saveur and realize I had every spice called for already in my pantry–except fenugreek, which has a flavor I don’t care for and which I omitted from my version.

Lastly, I used puny ground turkey because I had it in my freezer already (do you see a theme, here?) but I’d encourage the use of ground beef, lamb, or wild game meat if you’re lucky enough to have access to it. Make this recipe your own, because that’s what I did! If you use a fattier meat, consider downsizing the amount of added oil in other parts of the recipe (in the sauce, for instance) to avoid a greasy finish on the soup’s surface.

Mulligatawny Soup
This soup is a rich, thick riff on a traditional Mulligatawny recipe with a Paleo spin.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 4 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, core and seeds removed
  • ¼ cup arrowroot flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 plum tomato, minced
  • 2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Peel the sweet potato, cut into ½" cubes and toss with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Roast on a cookie sheet until soft and browned on the undersides, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. In a thick-bottomed pan with high sides, warm 2 teaspoons of coconut oil over medium heat, then add the ground meat, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, just until the meat is no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.
  3. In a food processor, combine chopped onion, garlic cloves, ginger and jalapeño. Pulse to a fine shred, and then add to the hot fat remaining in the pan and cook until caramelized but not burnt, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the arrowroot flour, coconut flour, spices, stock, roasted sweet potato and cooked ground meat. Boil until thickened (approximately 20 minutes).
  5. While the soup boils, prepare the sauce. Heat 3 tablespoons coconut oil in a small skillet. Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients, bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat.
  6. Stir half of the sauce into the thickened soup, then stir in the cilantro and remove the sauce from the heat. Serve warm, garnished with more sauce and a dollop of coconut milk.

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