This red lentil and chicken soup is a quick and easy version of Mulligatawny, the curry flavored soup popular in Anglo-Indian cuisine. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you might remember it as Kramer’s favorite soup from the infamous Soup Nazi. Made with a rotisserie chicken and canned coconut milk, it’s a one-pot supper that you can have on the table in 45 minutes (or less, if you’re lazy like me and use a food processor to chop the vegetables). A little heads up: don’t skip the garnishes. The fresh cilantro and lime brighten up the flavor and add a much needed pop of color. To make the dish a little heartier, sometimes I like to serve it with a scoop of basmati rice. But, really, store-bought or homemade naan is all you need to complete the meal.
Before we get started, a few words about the ingredients. It’s important to use red lentils, as opposed to another variety; they cook quickly, add wonderful flavor and thicken the soup nicely. They won’t hold their shape once cooked — that’s okay, they are intended to break down and give the soup a hearty texture. And Garam Masala is a fragrant Indian spice blend typically containing peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. It’s available at most large grocery stores (McCormick makes it as part of their Gourmet Collection), but if your regular supermarket does not carry it, you can always find it at Whole Foods or just substitute curry powder.
Begin by chopping the vegetables and apple. I use a food processor; if you do the same, be sure to roughly chop the vegetables first, so that they process evenly. And be sure process only until the mixture is roughly chopped, not puréed.
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the Garam Masala and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the vegetable/apple mixture.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is softened.
Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, lentils, ginger and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are tender and starting to break down.
Stir in the chicken and fresh lime, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle generously with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
This recipe is adapted from Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.
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Indian Spiced Red Lentil & Chicken Soup
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon garam masala (curry powder is a fine substitute)
- 3 medium carrots, diced into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 tart-yet-sweet apple, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth, best quality such as Swanson
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded, skinless cooked chicken, from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or leftovers
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus 6 lime wedges, for serving (you'll need 2-3 limes)
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the garam masala and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the chopped carrots, onions, apples, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 7-8 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, red lentils, ginger and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and starting to break down.
- Add the cooked chicken and 1 tablespoon lime juice, and heat until warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, more lime juice and cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve the soup generously sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro, with lime wedges on the side.
- Note: The soup will thicken as it sits. Add more chicken broth to thin it out if necessary.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat it on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot. (The soup will thicken up a lot when frozen, so you’ll likely need to add quite a bit of broth when reheating.)
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Calories: 367
- Fat: 16g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Sugar: 7g
- Fiber: 6g
- Protein: 22g
- Sodium: 434mg
- Cholesterol: 35mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.