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Mulligatawny Soup for "Souper Sundays"

Posted Nov 09 2008 12:00am

It is "Souper Sunday" and time for a nice, warm bowl of comforting soup. This week, I am journeying to India for a bowl of Mulligatawny. Mulligatawny (Tamil for "pepper water") is a rich soup, usually based on a meat or vegetable broth, highly-seasoned with curry and other spices. It can include meat like lamb or chicken, or can be vegetarian, as the version I made here is and usually contains some cream. It became popular with the British, stationed in India in the late 18th Century and the recipe traveled back with them to England and other countries of the Commonwealth.

It also reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld: The Soup Nazi about an obsessive soup stand owner who makes wonderful soups but demands his customers follow the correct ordering procedures or bans them from his stand with; "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

ELAINE: Do you need anything?
KRAMER: Well, a bowl of mulligatawny would hit the spot.
ELAINE: Mulligatawny?
KRAMER: Yeah. It's an Indian soup. It's simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era.
ELAINE: Oh! Who? The Soup Nazi?
KRAMER: He's not a Nazi. He just happens to be a little eccentric. Most geniuses are.

This week's recipe comes not from the Soup Nazi but instead from . Daily Soup is a New York based soup chain and the book, which I got at a used bookstore, has about 200 recipes for soups, stocks and spices.
Mulligatawny Soup
The Daily Soup Cookbook
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and diced
6 cups vegetable stock
6 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise ans cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted*
15 saffron threads
1/2 cup chopped scallions

Puree the ginger and garlic together in a blender or food processor. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger puree and saute for 4 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Add the sugar, garam masala, coriander, salt, turmeric, and cayenne and stir to coat the vegetables. Saute for 2 minutes to cook the spices.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, combine the heavy cream, half of the almonds, and the saffron in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Puree the almond and cream mixture in a blender until smooth. Stir the almond cream into the soup and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the remaining almonds. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds and chopped scallions.

*To toast almonds, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, until golden brown.
Makes 12 cups

Notes/Results: This is a REALLY good soup full of exotic flavors. The flavors are deep and layered and the texture from the almond cream is thick and rich with the extra almonds added at the end adding a satisfying crunch. Is it the world's healthiest soup with the cream? Not really, but if you are looking for a nicely spiced, soul-filling soup for an occasional treat, this one is delicious and fits the bill. I imagine you could leave out some of the cream if you wanted to. I made the recipe "as is" except I didn't have scallions for the top so I used cilantro instead. I served it with some large Sharwoods Puppodums (lentil crackers you can heat and puff up in the microwave). This is a definite keeper recipe for me.

SOUP NAZI: You are the only one who understands me.
KRAMER: You suffer for your soup.
SOUP NAZI: Yes. That is right.
KRAMER: You demand perfection from yourself, from your soup.
SOUP NAZI: How can I tolerate any less from my customer?
CUSTOMER: Uh, gazpacho, por favor.
SOUP NAZI: Por favor?
CUSTOMER: Um, I'm part Spanish.
SOUP NAZI: Adios muchacho!

And look, the lovely Natashya from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies stopped by Souper Sundays (what a loyal friend!) this week with some scrumptious looking Vegetarian Chili with a Cornbread Crust. Since there are high winds and freezing rain in her neck of the woods, this chili looks like the perfect dinner. (Actually even though the weather is much warmer here--it looks like the perfect dinner to me too!)
If you want to show off your souper creation on a "Souper Sunday", drop me a comment and a link to your post and I'll highlight it here. We welcome soups, stews, stroups, chilis, saucy crockpot delights--pretty much anything you eat with a spoon! You don't have to make it on Sundays--that's just the day we post them. (And I promise on Souper Sundays, there will never be NO SOUP FOR YOU!)
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