Autumn has definitely arrived. The air is crisp with cool breezes and the leaves have started to change their color. I came home the other day longing for soup. A warm, comforting and flavorful soup is perfect as the season changes. But which one should I make? What I love about soup is that your possibilities are endless making this decision even harder – and that is when I realized I had coconut milk still in the refrigerator and lentils in the cabinet. OOHHH, Mulligatawny!!!! Now I cannot even think of Mulligatawny without a flashback to the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi. In the episode the whole cast is obsessed with the soup that is being served at this soup stand in New York City. There is the infamous scene where Newman gets his soup and as he walks away cradling the soup he says so lovingly with an evil, savoring undertone “Mmmm, Mulligatawny!!!!!!” I will be honest that when the episode aired in 1995 I had no idea what Mulligatawny was. Several years later I tried it when I was in culinary school and I was intrigued. Then some very good friends of ours brought me back a cookbook from their trip to Fiji, and in it was a recipe for Mulligatawny. Of course I had to try it, and after a few tries I have adapted it into a recipe that Brian and I love. It is hearty, warming, and many would not believe after trying that it also is vegan! I feel this recipe is soulful and we love the way it awakens your taste buds. If you like lentils, and coconut you should give it a try…you will not be able to resist it.
Mulligatawny (serves 4 – 6)
(Note: If you would like to make this a heartier soup you can add the rice. I sometimes omit the potato if using the rice. Also, I know that the sweetened shredded coconut may seem odd; but its sweetness marries well with the heat of the chili, curry, and ginger.)
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped small
2 serrano chili, chopped small
1 tbsp of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp of curry powder
1 carrot, chopped small
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped small
1 cup of lentils, (I usually use red ones but black and green ones work as well)
1 ½ quarts of vegetable stock
¼ cup of lime juice
2 cups of coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup of sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup of cooked Jasmine Rice, optional
First, place in a 4 – 6 quart pot over medium heat. When heated through add you vegetable oil. When your oil is heated add your onion and sauté about 5 minute until they become transparent. To this add your ginger, chili, garlic, and curry powder. Let all these ingredients simmer together (they may become pasty, but that is normal) about 2 minutes stirring it constantly, be sure that is does not stick or start to burn.
Next, add in your carrot, apple and potato and stir it well. Pour in your vegetable stock and lentils. Be sure to stir it well getting up all the bits of curry and spices that might have stuck to the pot previously. Let the soup simmer about 20 minutes stirring it every once and a while. You are looking for your lentils to plump up, and they may also begin to break down – that is fine; you just want them to be cooked through.
Finally, when your lentils are cooked through and your soup has thickened up a bit you will add your lime juice and coconut milk. Return it back to a simmer and season to taste with your salt and pepper. (If adding rice you can add it now and heat through.) Turn off the heat and stir in your shredded coconut. Serve warm and with lime wedges and chopped cilantro if you have any.