This mulligatawny soup is full of fragrant Indian spices, rich with creamy coconut milk, loaded with vegetables, and a great source of protein thanks to the addition of red lentils. It’s the perfect plant-based soup!
Whether it’s Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Slow Cooker Mushroom Wild Rice Soup, or Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, soup is one of my favourite vegan meals. But some soups leave you hungry for more—you know the feeling? This vegan mulligatawny is not one of those lightweight soups!
Nope, mulligatawny is a soup with staying power. It’s supremely satisfying, amazingly flavourful, and healthy too. This is a soup that has it all, and then some!
What Is Mulligatawny?
Mulligatawny is a spiced curry soup that comes to us from the Tamilnadu region of South India. In Tamil, the name literally means “pepper water,” but don’t worry—you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like!
While mulligatawny is traditionally made with chicken or lamb, it’s very easy to give it a vegan makeover by omitting the meat and using vegetable broth. There’s so much going on in this recipe, you won’t even miss them.
This vegan mulligatawny soup has a complex flavour, with loads of aromatic spices, earthy lentils, and a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and tart notes. It’s hearty and filling, but it’s also quite healthy, so a big bowl will make you feel satisfied, not uncomfortably full.
Best of all, vegan mulligatawny freezes beautifully, so you can keep a batch on hand for whenever you’re in the mood for a cozy comfort food meal!
Notes on Ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card to find the ingredient quantities and recipe instructions.
- Vegetable oil – Corn, canola, or olive oil can be used instead.
- Yellow onion – White onion is fine too, but don’t use red.
- Potato – Peel the potato, but save the skins. You’ll use them to make a crispy topping for the vegan mulligatawny.
- Red jalapeño – Can’t find a red jalapeño? Any fresh red chili will do.
- Garlic cloves – Or substitute 3 teaspoons of garlic powder.
- Fresh ginger – Swap this for 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger, if needed.
- Granny Smith or Royal Gala apple – You want an apple variety that leans a little tart, not something like Red Delicious.
- Roma tomatoes
- Tomato purée
- Indian curry powder
- Ground coriander
- Ground paprika – Use sweet paprika, not hot—unless you want an extra spicy mulligatawny recipe!
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground turmeric
- Dried thyme
- Ground cardamom
- Ground black pepper – Freshly cracked is best.
- Dried red lentils – Don’t substitute brown or green lentils; red lentils break down when cooked, giving the soup a thick, creamy texture.
- Low-sodium veggie broth – Or use my homemade vegetable broth.
- Unsweetened full-fat coconut milk – Although you can substitute lite coconut milk, it will result in a much thinner soup.
- Unsweetened vegan yogurt – This is optional, for garnish.
- Chopped cilantro
What Is Indian Curry Powder Made Of?
Indian curry powder contains a blend of many spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom and chili. The specific ingredients vary from one brand to the next, as do the spice levels. If you want your vegan mulligatawny to be mild, avoid Madras curry powder, which is quite spicy!
How to Make Mulligatawny Soup
Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need to do to make restaurant-quality vegan mulligatawny at home.
Make the spice mix. Whisk all of the spices in a small bowl.
Cook the vegetables. Heat the vegetable oil in large pot set over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the onion, carrots, potatoes, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, and apple, then increase the heat to medium. Continue to stir occasionally, letting the veggies cook for 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes. Stir the tomatoes into the pot. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and the veggies are slightly browned.
Season. Stir the spices into the vegetables, followed by the tomato puree. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Blend the vegetables. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the vegetables to the blender and add 1 cup of broth. Puree until smooth.
Add the lentils. Transfer the blended mixture back into the pot. Stir in the red lentils and the remaining broth, then bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
Let it simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Season with salt to taste.
Make the crispy skin. Pat the potato skins dry. Add the vegetable oil to a small pot over medium heat, then carefully place the potato peels into the oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil and set them on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt and pepper while they’re still hot.
Blend again. Transfer 1/2-3/4 of the soup into the blender and puree until smooth. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot; stir and let the soup cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the coconut milk. Stir in the coconut milk and remove the pot from the heat.
Serve. Ladle the mulligatawny soup into serving bowls and add a swirl of vegan yogurt. Crumble the crispy potato skins on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Tips for Success
Here are some simple tips for making perfect vegan mulligatawny.
- Add more oil as needed. If all of the oil seems to have absorbed when the vegetables are cooking, you can add more oil to the pot to keep everything from sticking.
- Adjust the heat level. Madras curry powder will make a spicier mulligatawny, or you can add cayenne pepper for additional heat. Omitting the red chili pepper, or using a spicier variety, is another way to adjust the spiciness of your soup.
- Cook until the lentils fall apart. Unlike other types of lentils, you want red lentils to cook until they’re falling apart. Don’t think you’ve done something wrong!
This vegan mulligatawny soup is perfect enjoyed on its own as a light meal, but it’s also delicious with a side of vegan naan (or garlic naan!), basmati rice, or even cauliflower rice. You can also customize your mulligatawny with a variety of toppings, like roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds, or chili crisp.
How to Store
Store leftover vegan mulligatawny soup in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, simply warm the soup over medium heat on the stove or pop it in the microwave.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, this vegan mulligatawny soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze the soup, transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until it’s warmed through.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan mulligatawny soup, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
For the veggies:
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 medium potato, peeled and diced; reserve the peels
- ¼–½ red jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
- ½ large Granny Smith or Royal Gala apple, peeled and diced
- 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup tomato purée
For the spice mix:
- ½ tablespoon Indian curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the soup:
- ½ cup dried red lentils
- 3 ½ cups low-sodium veggie broth
- ½ cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- Salt, to taste
- Unsweetened vegan yogurt, for garnish
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Make the spice mix. Whisk the curry powder, ground coriander, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, thyme, cardamom, and black pepper in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- Cook the veggies. Heat a large pot over low heat. Add the vegetable oil. Let it heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, potatoes, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, and apple. Raise the heat to medium. Mix well. Stir occasionally and let the veggies cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the pot and stir well. Stir and cook everything for another 5-7 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Add more oil as needed. The veggies will be slightly browned.
- Season it. Throw the spice mix into the pot and stir to combine. Add the tomato purée and stir well. Let the mixture cook for another 5 minutes.
- Blend the veggies. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the veggies to the blender and add 1 cup of veggie broth. Process until you get a smooth mixture.
- Add the lentils. Transfer the blended mixture back into the pot. Add the red lentils and the remaining veggie broth. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Let it simmer. Immediately reduce the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally so the lentils don't stick to the pot. Season with salt to taste.
- Make the crispy skin. As the soup simmers, make the skin by patting the potato skins dry. Add vegetable oil to a small pot over medium heat. Gently lower the potato peels into the oil. Let them fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil and set them on a paper-towel lined plate to drain excess oil. Set them aside. Season with salt to taste.
- Blend. Transfer 1/2-3/4 of the soup into the blender. Process it until you get a smooth mixture. Pour it back into the pot. Stir well and let the soup cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk. Pour in the coconut milk. Stir unti it's completely combined. Remove from the heat.
- Serve. Ladle hot soup into serving bowls. Swirl in unsweetened vegan yogurt to taste. Crumble crispy potato skins on top and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.