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When I was younger, I was completely obsessed with the Redwall books.  (For those not in the know, these are fantasy and adventure books for kids, with animals as the characters.)  Besides the fact that I loved the stories and the characters, I also really loved the descriptions of food.  Reading the Redwall books always made me super hungry because Brian Jacques would go on for what seemed like pages about the delicious feasts the characters were partaking in.  I actually feel like it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Redwall books first got me interested in food-writing, as bizarre as that is.

Fast forward a few years, to the first time I ever heard of mulligatawny.  All I knew about this soup was that it had lots of vegetables and spices—and I thought it was one of the soups from Redwall.  (Not so.  Turned out I was mistaking it for hotroot soup, which is in fact a Redwall recipe—also delicious!)  Only later did I learn that it’s actually a spicy Indian soup that is not at all fictional.

If you remember from my post on tomato gorgonzola soup…I really love soup.  I also love Indian food.  Once I realized that mulligatawny is both of these things, I immediately resolved to make it.  After stumbling onto a tasty-sounding vegan recipe, I went to work.

This soup is really fantastic for a cold winter’s night.  It’s got a really complex and delicious flavor—spicy, sweet, and sour all in one.  This might sound a little confusing, but trust me—it’s great.  The mix of vegetables makes it so that you get something different in every bite, AND you can’t possibly feel bad about eating this soup because there are like twelve pounds of vegetables in it.

Because I didn’t have some of the ingredients, I ended up adapting this recipe.  Also, apparently you can make it in a slow cooker, in which case you throw everything in the slow cooker EXCEPT the last three ingredients, which you add a couple minutes before serving.  I was going to make it in a slow cooker, but I got too distracted making those darn snickerdoodle muffins.  Another variation concerns the consistency of your soup.  I chose to blend about half of the soup up to give it a smoother consistency; however, you could leave the soup as is, blend it all, blend a bit, blend most of it…whatever you want, really.

One thing: be prepared to have a ton of soup.  I underestimated how much soup I would have, but once I saw the pile of vegetables going in, I got a bit nervous.  On the bright side, vegan mulligatawny refrigerates great and tastes just as good a few days later.

Anyways, special equipment: you’ll need a big stock pot and (if you choose) a blender.  As for the ingredients…

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less, to taste
1 medium sweet or red onion, peeled, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 heaping cups thinly shredded cabbage
1 quart water
2 cups veggie juice blend
1 14-oz. can chick peas, drained
A small pinch of salt, to taste
1 14-oz. can coconut milk, stirred
Juice from 1 medium lime, or to taste
2 T agave nectar

  1. Heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Add all the spices and stir a bit.  Add the onion, carrots, cauliflower, apples, sweet potatoes, and cabbage and sauté until soft.
  2. Add water, vegetable juice, chickpeas, and salt (if using salt).  Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender—about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk, agave nectar, and lime juice.  Heat it through, but don’t let it boil.
  4. This step is optional, depending on how you plan to treat your soup.  If you’re going to be blending any of it, this where you would do that.  Be careful with the blender—don’t put too much soup in!  I almost encountered disaster here when my soup tried to explode out the top of the blender.  Cover the top of a blender with a towel to prevent catastrophe.

When we had our soup, my mom baked up some store-bought naan to go with it.  It was super good, and the delicious spiciness of the soup really complemented the naan.  Also—great for dipping.

I ended up taking some mulligatawny back with me to school.  It was the perfect pick-me-up on a cold rainy day.  There’s just something beautiful and happy about warm, spicy, colorful soup.