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Mulligatawny Soup, Magic With Leftovers

Mulligatawny Soup is a traditional curry soup from Siri Lanka, that’s been heavily influenced by colonialism. What was once a peasant’s dish literally named “pepper water’ – a way to stretch what they had into a meal – is now deeply satisfying, comfort food and perfect for leftover night!

What to do with that half a roasted chicken?

Mulligatawny Soup is one of my favourite weeknight, ready-in-a-flash leftover applications. Any time I have leftover roasted chicken and rice mulligatawny is my go-to as the seasons start to shift. Maybe it’s the end bits after a curry night, or a fridge that needs a good clear-out of wilted vegetables, in they go!

Mulligatawny is such a flexible soup. Here I’ve used carrots, celery and cauliflower. Another often added ingredient is tomato for a hint of acidity, or chickpeas to add more protein value or to replace meat altogether.

Mildly spicy, deeply flavourful, creamy, this version is loaded with chicken and the sweetness of apples, Mulligatawny is an incredibly simple soup.

Cooked rice Vs. Raw Rice

“But what if you don’t have leftover, cooked rice, can I cook the rice in the soup?” You CAN, but if you do, the rice tends to soak up too much liquid and break up as you continue cooking, creating a thicker, curried rice porridge. (Which is not terrific…) 

Here I’m using a Long Grain & Wild Rice Pilaf leftover from dinner earlier in the week.  Long grain rice is always best in soups or rice dishes like Jambalaya, where the rice needs to hold in liquid. Long grain rice is naturally firmer with a tougher starch layer on the outside, so it maintains its shape longer, despite being in water. Adding cooked rice, and cooked chicken at the end – just to heat through – helps to maintain the look and feel of this chunky soup.

The Savoury Side Of Apples

I love this time of year for the pure volume of delicious foodstuffs that are still fresh from harvest. Squash, kale, cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts, pears and apples. Apples are among my favourite fruits, for their pure adaptability.

From a simple apple pie, a sweet & spicy apple coffee cake, the sweet-tart bite behind Cheese Bacon & Apple Biscuits, roasted with roots & onions as a side to pork or as the bright, sweet component of a Mulligatawny Soup, apples are a superstar ingredient!

Try a little something spicy. Make your own magic with leftovers – Mulligatawny Soup!

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Mulligatawny Soup, Magic With Leftovers

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  • Author: Cori Horton
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6


Mulligatawny Soup is one of my favourite weeknight, ready-in-a-flash leftover applications. Any time I have leftover roasted chicken and rice mulligatawny is my go-to as the seasons start to shift. It truly is, magic with leftovers!


  • 2 tablespoons light cooking oil, sunflower, safflower, or canola
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, or two pods green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups, cooked chicken, skinless, boneless, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 apple cored, and diced
  • 1 cup long-cooked long grain or wild rice
  • salt & pepper – to taste
  • Cilantro to finish (optional)


  1. Start with your curry base. In a large pot over medium heat add a thick slick of light oil, I rarely measure my oil so the 2 tablespoons noted is just a guide. Be sure the bottom of your pot is well covered. When the oil starts to shimmer add your onions and sweat lightly, stirring as needed, until transparent. Now add both the garlic and ginger, and cook for about two minutes before adding your spices – cumin, curry powder, nutmeg, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, and thyme – stirring constantly so as not to burn. Cook over medium heat to brown your cumin and create a fragrant, punchy base, about three minutes.
  2. Add your butter and melt into curry base. Then add your flour and cook, stirring contently until the flour is well toasted, about two minutes. Then add your chicken stock and stir to combine before adding your vegetables and covering to cook for five to seven minutes until vegetables are beginning to soften.
  3. While the vegetables cook, peel and chop your apple. Once you find your cauliflower and carrots are to your liking add your coconut milk (or heavy cream), followed by your cooked rice, leftover chicken and diced apple before bringing to a rapid boil to thoroughly warm all ingredients. Immediately remove from heat, portion – finishing with chopped cilantro – and serve.
  4. Serve with buttery biscuits, savoury scones or toasted naan for a delicious, comforting meal in minutes!


Want to keep Mulligatawny Soup gluten-free? Ditch the flour and substitute 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch in approximately 2 tablespoons of water to make a cornstarch slurry. Add your cornstarch slurry to BOILING soup just before adding coconut milk. This will thicken to a nice, smooth consistency.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Siri Lankan

Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.

Soup Week
1. Cauliflower Smoked Cheddar Soup
2. Roasted Turkey New Potato Soup
3. Sweet Carrot Coconut Soup
4. Mulligatawny Soup, Magic With Leftovers

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