A good bowl of soup is a wonderful thing – healthy, nourishing, and full of veggies my children otherwise wouldn’t eat. Especially on a day like today in DC, as it is grey and grim and has rained incessantly all day long.  Soup as a starter is fine, but the problem I have with soup as dinner is simple.  About an hour after finishing the soup I’m hungry again, and you’ll likely find me rummaging around in the freezer for a pint of Chubby Hubby.  Unless of course I have consumed an entire loaf of crusty sourdough bread slathered with butter with the soup.  Either way, it kinda defeats the purpose of the healthy, vegtable-laden effort. If soup is to be dinner, it must be substantial.

Which brings me to today’s offering, the Mighty Mulligatawny.  I’ve always been intrigued by this soup, and I have to admit it all started with the fact that I’m quite smitten with the word mulligatawny.  I’m a fan of good words, and this is a doozy of a word, don’t you think?  But trust me, the soup has a big personality that lives up to the word.  It’s meaty and sweet and spiced with curry and peppers and quite hearty.  There is a lot going on in each mouthful.  My current favorite version of the recipe can be found in Jamie’s Great Britain, a gem of a book brimming with recipes of food we adored while living in London years ago.  Cornish pasties, Victoria sponge cakes, Shepherd’s pies, and Scottish shortbread… all there. The gorgeous photography of this gorgeous food eaten by lovely Brits keep me coming back time and again.  And cheeky Jamie just seems to have so much FUN while cooking… it looks like he met – and charmed – half of the population of the UK while shooting the photos for the book.


But I digress – back to the soup. I think the origins of this soup are fascinating.  Jamie says: “it evolved from a thinned-out stew-slash-curry cooked by Tamils during the years of the British Raj – after the British soldiers stationed in India fell in love with it and asked it to be tweaked to their tastes. When the soldiers came back home, this recipe came with them.”

There are dozens of versions of the soup out there 150 years later, many involving chicken.  I prefer Jamie’s meaty variety.  Beware, though… I couldn’t help but tweak it to my tastes as well.  Another good word, tweak.  Enjoy – and I promise, you won’t be hungry just after you finish it.

Mighty Mulligatawny

  • a glug of olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • a one-inch piece of fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cups organic beef stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • plain greek yogurt, to serve (optional)

In a large casserole, add a splash of olive oil and the ground beef.  Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the beef, until it starts to turn golden and caramelize.  Stir in the onion, carrot, garlic, red pepper, ginger, apple, and sweet potato.   Cook and stir for around 10 minutes on medium heat, or until the veg have softened.

Stir in the curry, garam masala, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and the salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two.  Add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste.  Leave to blip away with the lid over a medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fill a separate large pot with water, and bring to a boil.  Add the basmati rice and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain the rice, and tip it into the soup.  Have a taste and season if needed.  If you’re a fan of heat, you might want to sprinkle a few extra red pepper flakes at this point. Gently mix together, then ladle it into soup bowls with a good dollop of plain yogurt.

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