Chicken Mulligatawny Soup

Chicken Mulligatawny curry soup! So EASY to make and absolutely delicious, you will want to make over and over again.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 1/4 pound (570 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of visible fat
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken stock
  • 2 cups (475 ml) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon sea salt)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 tart apples, cored, peeled, and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4  (60 ml) cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) plain yogurt for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives for garnish


1 Sauté onions, celery, carrots in olive oil and butter, add bay leaves, curry powder: Heat butter and olive oil on medium high heat in a large (4 to 5 quart), thick-bottomed pot. Add the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes until just starting to soften. Add the bay leaves. Add the curry powder and mix to coat.

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2 Add chicken, stock, salt: Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat with the curry mixture. Add the stock and water to the pot. Add the salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

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3 Remove chicken, let cool to touch: Remove the chicken pieces from the pot. (They should be just cooked through. If not, return them to the pot for another 5 minutes or so, until they are cooked through.) Place on a cutting board and allow to cool to the touch.

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4 Add rice, apples: Add the rice and the chopped apples to the soup. Return to a simmer on high heat, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.

5 Shred the chicken, return to soup, add cream: While the apples and rice are cooking in the soup, shred the chicken, discarding any tough bits. Once the rice and apples in the soup are cooked, add the chicken back to the pot. Heat for 5 minutes more. Then stir in the cream.

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Serve with yogurt and chives.

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  • Ray

    A beautiful soup, make bigger batch it disappears quickly. On rotation in winter months, have a batch on now. Cheers


  • Carly

    Does this soup store in the fridge well?! I have an event and I was hoping to make it 4 days in advance. Any advice?! Thx.

    • Carrie Havranek

      Hi Carly! Soup is generally pretty forgiving, but if possible, I would make it 2-3 days ahead if you could, and wait until the day of serving it to add the dairy. Hope it works for you!

  • Cat

    Can this soup be frozen?

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Cat! Yes, this soup can be frozen! I would freeze it before adding the cream and yogurt, and wait to add the dairy until you reheat and eat it. Enjoy!

  • Eleni

    Delicious change of pace! Thanks for a great recipe my mother & I really like.



    Can you omit cream or substitute? and use less curry so not too spicy without losing flavor?

  • daryl

    …first time making this exact recipe, and apparently i knocked it outta the park…i gave a couple bowls to people at work,and now i have to make it again for work tomorrow


  • Brouck

    This is my favorite go-to winter dish. This is the closest recipe I’ve found to the one my mom used to make for us as kids— the only difference is she used to add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, which i can’t recommend enough, and she would sprinkle raisins on top as garnish. For vegetarians, I’ll replace the chicken with cauliflower and the chicken stock with vegetable stock— equally as delicious. Best of all, it only requires a cutting board, and a pot, so it’s the ultimate one pot meal and the cleanup is super easy.


  • Amy

    Can’t wait to try this recipe tonight. Does anyone know if this soup keeps well in the fridge or freezer as a meal prep food for the week? If it makes 6 servings I will definitely have leftovers.

    • Brouck

      I’ve been making big batches of this for years and it is even better the next day. It will last a few days in the fridge, or longer in the freezer— one tip though is if you don’t plan on eating some of it right away, I recommend freezing it without the apples and cream, and then adding those in when you are re-heating. Otherwise the apples get pretty broken down/soggy.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Amy! I think this recipe should keep just fine for about 5 days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer. Enjoy!

    • daryl

      I find its better the next day!

  • Shiela Granado

    Amazing flavor and easy to make. Perfect meal for a snowy day. I don’t add the rice,but serve over brown rice.


  • Janet

    Absolutely delicious! Didn’t change a thing and it came together beautifully. Wonderful flavor and hearty like a stew. Will be making this again. Winner-winner-chicken-dinner.


  • Sarah

    A go to recipe in our house. Even my picky eater likes it! Instead of cream I use half a can of coconut milk- concomitant and curry is just such an awesome flavor combination.


  • [email protected]

    We made this soup for dinner last night. It was fabulous. Decided not to add cream and didn’t miss it. We’ll be making this again many times.


  • Loretta

    I have a friend who made me this soup twenty years ago I loved it was always looking for a recipe. I can not wait to make it. thank you for the recipe.

  • Mary

    Oh my goodness! So delicious!


  • Jenny Gorle

    This is so delicious! I’ve had it exactly as listed and then I substituted Thai Coconut Broth for the chicken broth, and Almond Milk for the heavy cream. Both versions are killer!! I’m making it again today


  • Susan Serra

    We love curry, and soups! This was very easy, and VERY DELICIOUS!! I put a little sour cream, rather than yogurt, on top. Served with biscuits. YUM!!!


  • Carly

    Refered by a friend. Our whole family loved it. Will make it often.


  • HELEN Stephens

    Elise’s Mulligatawny soup is delicious. I make it often

  • Stephany

    By the way, I think you have the serving size wrong. Serving size 1. I’m not sharing.


  • Stephany

    Oh my heavens. This is way up there with one of my most favorite recipes! My only regret is not tripling this so I could eat massive bowls of this every day for a week. It’s so simple too. What a perfect find I have found. My small kids up to my big kids ate this up and there is even a slight hint of heat to it, which makes the big guy smile. It is all our favorite! Thank you! (I followed it to the T and used my own chicken stock.)


  • Maya

    I made this soup in a pressure cooker and it was soo good .. just beautiful taste and so easy to make . I was wondering if anyone tried it without the rice ?


  • Amanda

    Delicious. Good depth of flavor. The apples and the curry together is an extraordinary combination. I added the tiniest habenero and it just added a slight bit of background heat.
    I cooked everything together for about an hour before finally adding the cream.


    • Cliff

      If ya like a little heat, throw some spicy ground or chopped up Italian sausage in there too….BOOM, thank me later, it’s amazing.

  • Kathy

    This looks great. My question is. Besides the little bit of cream at the end. Only 2 cups of stock and 2 cups of water does not seem like enough liquid for all of the ingredients.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Kathy! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. This is meant to be a thicker soup or stew, plus the vegetables and chicken release some of their own liquid. You can always add in some extra chicken broth if you prefer a thinner soup!

  • Rich Land

    Fantastic recipe! Made it last night and my wife and I just kept commenting on how easy it was to make for a dish so delicious! I followed the recipe as written. We also liked the “mullligatawny trivia” – it added a fun perspective. Many thanks! Up next: Hank Shaw’s recipe for Shrimp and Grits! Your weekly meal planners are so helpful.


    • Karen

      To which “weekly meal planners” is this comment referring? I could use something like that!

  • Dj

    Easy. This was delicious. Next time I would add only one apple—just my preference.


  • Karen

    I finally found a curry powder I love, so had to try this recipe. Easy and oh so delicious. I went to grab the rice and found I only had brown basmati left to use. Added it when I added the chicken and it cooked perfectly. Even the picky eater really enjoyed! Thank you for posting it!


    • Reg

      HI KAREN
      I would like to know the name of the new curry powder you have found if you don’t mind

  • L. James

    Made this tonite, wonderful! I never knew that I could enjoy curry so much, I just found your website and love it,
    I also used 2 bone in chicken breasts, simmered them in the liquid, and sauté the veggies while the chicken was simmering , otherwise followed the recipe, I did not want the veggies to become too soft, and
    Strained the broth before adding it to the veggies.


  • Janice

    Not tried it yet would like to know how the lady got on doing it in the slow cooker

  • Ms. Meems

    What a glorious soup! So satisfying and homey. Have made a few times with bone-in thighs and different curry powders. Our favorite used a curry powder with coconut and extra chilies. Also cook rice separately or use leftovers added at the last minute to preserve as much of that sublime broth as possible. If time allows, make and chill for several hours or overnight so flavors bloom–add rice right before serving. Have also made Elise’s Cooked Turkey Mulligatawny with a rotisserie chicken…wonderful too! Both soups were hoovered up at our home. Thanks for the terrific recipes, Elise!


  • Cameron Ward

    BRILLIANT … so easy … THANK YOU
    SO VERY VERY MUCH …. didn’t know it was SO easy
    I just happen to have 7 freshly baked/roasted ORGANIC Chicken Breasts,
    which I’m sure will substitute quite nicely for the thighs !
    GONNA MAKE SOME TONIGHT … just need a couple of things from the grocer !


  • Lin Collins

    This is a very good recipe. I might suggest to others that they try it at least once as written. With all the personal tweaks, omissions and additions it soon ceases to be Mulagatawny soup.

  • Pat

    I made this soup last night using pork instead of chicken. I also substituted coconut milk for cream, added a green pepper, couple potatoes and a can of diced tomatoes. Fabulous

  • Gina Garcia

    I make this chicken curry minus the potatoes because I make mashed potatoes and I pour the soup on top of the mashed potatoes :-) and it is delicioso

  • Susan

    Waoo this recipes is so delicious! I did cook today for the first time and everybody love it. My substitution was heavy whipped cream and added potatoes, peach and raisin to bring out the sweet amazing flavor. So yummy, you should try to cook it

  • Jessica

    Do you think this is something you could make in a slow cooker?

    • Elise Bauer

      Maybe. If you try it in a slow cooker, please let us know how it turns out for you!

  • pam

    i never thought about putting apples in curry soup.
    but the apples (granny smith) added a little sweetness & tartness to the soup. wonderful.


  • Donna Wicks

    I just made this soup for dinner. It is wonderful. I will never lose this recipe

  • Kim

    Just made this soup tonight for the first time and it’s excellent! I looked up many recipes online and this one appealed to me most. I don’t like creamy soups so I eliminated the whipping cream and did not garnish it with yogurt. It was delicious and will definitely stay in my “saved recipes” collection!

  • Mitzi

    What kind of apple works best for this soup?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Mitzi, I usually use Granny Smith because they are tart and cook well.

  • Carol Henry

    I have made this soup many ways over the years. This is an excellent recipe. Great flavor and easy.

  • Karin

    I lieu of fancy ingredients (but remembering what a great soup this is, since I have eaten it in a restaurant in Vienna many years ago) … all I do, is … boil some chicken thighs (with back attached), with a few spices, like salt, pepper, basil, sage, garlic, coriander seeds, cloves~ and, if I don’t have any fresh ginger … a bag of ginger tea … water to cover, for about 45 minutes. Then, I heat some coconut oil, roast currie-powder in it for a few minutes, and add the flaked cooked chicken plus the liquid it had cooked in. Add some 1/2 & 1/2 cream at the end. Voila ! Quick, cheap and delicious! Mulligatawny ~ best soup ever !

  • Destiny MCElroy

    I love this soup! It is nice and cozy and great with naan. I was skeptical of the apples but they were perfect in this. Yummy.

  • Missy

    I made this last night and even with my mishaps it is the best soup I’ve ever eaten. (I bought bone in chicken and had to cook it longer and seemed to lose a lot of liquid so added more broth. Also think I cooked it too long because my apples have somewhat disintegrated) I really can’t wait to get home from work to have it for dinner again tonight.

  • Hannah

    This soup is as easy to make as it is delicious! I’m currently nursing a cold and this is the perfect soup because it is easy to make and it is super flavorful when everything else tastes dull. I used vegetable instead of chicken stock because it’s what I had in the pantry and it was still amazing. I added a bit more curry at the end to add some kick. When you’re sick you can always use extra flavor! I plan on making this often when it cools down

    • Hannah

      And I was skeptic about the yogurt but it really adds a great velvety texture and subtle flavor. Don’t skip that step!

  • Rehana

    I just finished making this soup and it is absolutely delicious! I made a few changes for my taste, added coconut milk (instead of cream), garlic, & garam masala (stir in a teaspoon of this near the end of cooking for aromatic enhancement). Garnished with cilantro. Beautiful! Thank you so much for this!

  • Suze

    Elise, I absolutely love your recipe! I first had this soup at Marlene’s in Tacoma. I had to make it at home so I did a search and landed here! I am so glad because it is excellent! I made it several times during the Fall and am going to make it again today! I brought it to work and everyone loves it! Glad I found you!
    Thank you so much!!

  • Susanne

    Elise I love all your recipes on this site and this is another winner I made tonight. Looks exactly like your photo and it’s delicious on a cold night ! I doubled the recipe so will have plenty more, but next time I will add a little more rice to the pot for this delicious broth. Thank you !

  • Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek

    Oh my gosh. Made this tonight. EVERYONE loved it. Definite keeper. Thank you.

  • Olivia

    I made this recipe on Monday and let it meld in the fridge and had it for dinner Tuesday – so delicious! Followed the recipe to a T, and I wouldn’t change a thing. This is definitely going to be in the rotation all winter long!

  • Kathy W

    This soup looks perfect. I’m in a country that doesn’t seem to have celery. Do you know of any possible substitutes for celery. Maybe a chard stalk? Thanks so much for your help

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Kathy, I know of no good substitute for celery in a soup like this, so I would just skip it (the celery, not the soup).

  • Scott Citron

    Great recipe. I mistakenly bought chicken breasts instead of thighs, but the soap was still delicious. I, too, did not add the cream and don’t miss it at all. The suggestion to add coconut milk sounds inspired but, again, probably unnecessary. I added about a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil to give it some needed fat, which helped. I also added lemon juice, which also helped mucho.

  • Dan

    Elise, this is my first time commenting although I have made several of your recipes the last couple years. They are always great but I must say this was fantastic! I added garlic and ginger and used brown rice instead of white. Thanks and keep up the great recipes!

  • Mark

    Well I made it twice in one week, if that’s any indication of how tasty this recipe is. The lesson for me is that simple ratio of one tsp curry powder to one cup broth. Work the aromatics, add the protein, and finish with the vegetables and maybe some cream or creme fresche (or however it’s spelled.)


    • Elise Bauer

      I’m so glad you like it Mark! It is really rather simple, isn’t it? Especially considering how good it tastes.

  • Amber

    Any healthy suggestions for a substitute for the heavy whipping cream, other than coconut milk?

    • Amber

      I just left it out and added a bit of Greek yogurt right before serving.

      • Stephany

        I was thinking about leaving the cream out too, but it’s just a 1/4 cup. I bet you could cut that in half and still get the great flavor it adds.

    • Jeff

      Used fat-free half and half. Tasted great.

  • Emily M.

    I made this for dinner last night, two adults, three kids, no dinner time tears-that qualifies as a hit. Putting it into the regular rotation, thank you!

  • Kristiawan

    Looks tasty, the yellow color make it look similar to “opor ayam” in my country. We do use coconut milk though.

  • Renee

    Yes, I’ve had this type of soup before. It’s different and yummy! Looking forward to trying your recipe when the weather cools down. It sounds as if it’s a thick soup, and I might serve it over more rice.

  • Jim Gauntt

    My Facebook post tonight:

    The best soup ever? Very true – and the only additions to this recipe were all homemade chicken stock (no water) and roughly triple the amount of curry powder (half hot yellow-half yellow). Plus, we used bone-in thighs (cause it adds more flavor) so weight must go up to at least 1.75lbs. To make sure the thighs were coated with enough curry mixture they were rubbed with a little of the curry before adding – don’t skip anything else – apples are an unbelievable addition – both heavy cream and yogurt PLUS chives are a MUST (also the little bit of lemon juice the keep the apples bright also helped the tartness that keeps you wanting more). The best soup ever, for certain…thanks to my go to recipe website (see below)

    • Jim Gauntt

      FYI the pictures I took of the finished product in the pot are dead on – Elise I truly think the addition of a photo of the soup in a bowl with the yogurt drizzle and chives would be a killer addition to the post – it’s gorgeous

    • Elise Bauer

      Thanks Jim! I only used 2 cups of stock (the other 2 water) because the chicken creates its own broth while it cooks and I’m trying to be thrifty. But of course if you use all stock (homemade is the way to go) then it will be even better. I’m so glad you liked it!

  • ann Marie

    Made this for lunch today, and it was delicious. Used grilled chicken thighs, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. Will make this again for sure.

  • Sandy S

    Oh how Mulligatawny soup stirs memories of another time, another place! A favorite lunchtime treat served-up on Thursdays at an abandoned A&W drive-in turned into a family owned lunch and early dinner restaurant. Their Mulligatawny drew a crowd on Thursdays, so you needed to get there early! I loved it! It was so ‘exotic’ for this small town girl hungry to see what the world had to offer! I was clueless about it’s origin. For all I knew they were using an Irish grandmother’s recipe!?! lol But, I did love it. So satisfying. I look forward to whipping this recipe up!

    • Sandy S

      Just have to say Elise, that you Nailed It! Perfect recipe! Everyone has gone for 2nds and 3rds, with me leading the way. Makes a great ‘game day’ soup!


      • Elise Bauer

        Great Sandy, I’m so glad you all like it! Fist pump. :-)

  • Carolyn T

    I’ve been making Mulligatawny since 1971 when I read about it in magazine article. Have loved it ever since! I think your version has a bit more apple than mine, but otherwise they’re very similar, and yes, it’s a fabulous soup. I have some left over turkey meat, so I think I’ll make a batch today and update the photo on my blog. Wikipedia has a good write-up about the origins of the soup, which coincide with one of your commenters, the “pepper soup.”

  • Jon

    Looks to be delicious, however you never actually add the salt listed in the ingredients list in your directions.

  • Lawrence

    Made this last night and it was delicious!! Make this – you won’t regret it!

  • Rivka

    Hi Elise, this looks really good! What would you recommend if I omitted the rice? Is there a suitable vegetable alternative?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Rivka, you can leave out the rice if you want, no need to substitute.

  • Anita

    My curry powder is “sweet curry powder” and it is, indeed, yellow. This is the right stuff?

  • Laurie

    I am lactose intolerant. How do you think it would be without the cream added and just putting a garnish of yogurt on it?

    • Barbara

      Laurie, Just yogurt would probably be good but another alternative is to use coconut milk. It goes really well with curry flavors and I am sure it would be delicious here.

      • Karen

        Hi, Laurie. if you can acquire it, many dairies make lactose-free whipping, cream, milk, yogurt, soft/hard margarines, etc.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Laurie, I agree with Barbara. I’ve seen plenty of recipes for mulligatawny with coconut milk. It should be delicious!

    • Jim Gauntt

      No dairy necessary for a great soup

  • RS

    Hi Elise! I am Tamil and it is actually “milagu thanni” which translates to pepper water. That said, while I’ve of course seen mulligatawny soups on menus all over, I’ve never ordered one, because we make the best vegetarian milagu rasam at home! Thanks for raising awareness of this dish and type of cooking.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi RS, thanks for your comment! The soup was created in the 1700s, perhaps the English spelling of the words for pepper soup in Tamil has changed over the centuries? I’ve consulted several sources on the etymology. Back then, English spelling was completely inconsistent.

      • RS

        Certainly possible. You have done more research than I have – that’s just the English writing for what we say in Tamil (today). Regardless, it’s an interesting back story to the recipe.