That's my signal to haul out the stockpot and turn to a bowl of comforting soup with zesty flavors that warm the bones. One of my favorites is Mulligatawny Vegetable Soup for its heartiness, rich flavors, and a gift of warming spices.
Because of its multitude of vegetables and spices, I've often been asked where this unique soup originated and enjoy sharing its interesting beginnings. According to Alan Davidson, editor of The Oxford Companion to Food, the British colonized Southern India about the mid 19th century and were often served a variety of curried stews. However, they missed their traditional soup course, an unfamiliar item to Indian cooking of that era.
In an effort to please, the Indian cooks created mullaga tannir, which translated to pepper soup in the Tamil language. The Brits loved it and began calling it Mulligatawny Soup. They brought the concept back to England, resulting in many interpretations. Originally it was made with chicken or meat broth and contained pieces of chicken, fried onions, and curry powder.
Many vegan versions exist, some with lentils, tomatoes, and rice. I chose to stay true to a more Indian slate of ingredients and seasoning and included coconut milk and potatoes, typical of Southern Indian cuisine. I also featured cubes of extra-firm tofu, which helps to make the soup hearty enough to enjoy as a main dish.
The final seasoning is left to the home cook, who well knows the family's preferences for saltiness and spice level. Some might even like a little more lemon squeezed in at the end. Enjoy a steamy bowl to bring in the New Year and keep those blustery blues at bay.
MULLIGATAWNY VEGETABLE SOUP
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 large crown broccoli, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large green apple, cored and chopped
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped red or green bell pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 whole cloves
1 quart (1 liter) vegetable broth or water
2 cups (480 ml) coconut milk