Mulligatawny Stew

This is another one of my favorite soup recipes, or stew, or somewhere in between.  Curry, garam masala, lentils, tomatoes and coconut milk meld together into this delicious and healthy meal.  This dish has a lot of spice without being spicy which makes it especially kid-friendly.

I originally came by this Mulligatawny Soup when I subscribed to the Six O’Clock Scramble. This was one my favorite recipes from the service. I added a little more spice to suit my taste and you may want to take it even further.  Another tip, if you presoak your lentils or purchase precooked lentils, it cuts the cooking time in half, but I didn’t do that today.

Mulligatawny Stew
Adapted from The Six O’Clock Scramble

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic, (3 – 4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3/4 cup green or black lentils (I used Urad), rinsed
  • 15 ounce diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 3-4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati or long grain rice, uncooked (optional)
  • 1/2 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving (optional)
  • salt to taste

I choose black Urad lentils for this soup…because that’s what I had, but you could also use yellow lentils or gorgeous little green french lentils.  The recipe is flexible.  Look at these beauties!

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder and garam masala and sauté it, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the lentils to coat them.

Add the tomatoes and broth.  If you are using uncooked unsoaked lentils, you will probably want to use the whole 4 cups.  If you used precooked or presoaked lentils, start with 3 cups of broth.  Bring the soup to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer, stirring it occasionally, until the lentils are tender.

How long this takes varies depending on the lentils you use.  If you were to use presoaked and drained lentils (or precooked lentils like they sell at Trader Joe’s), it will cook faster.  It could be as little as 25-30 minutes, but my little black Urad took 50 minutes on a very low simmer.  The soup thickened considerably during this time.

Puree the soup to desired thickness in a blender or right in the pot using an immersion blender–it can be smooth or chunky, depending on your preference (I like mine pretty smooth). Stir in the coconut milk until it is heated through.  Add salt to taste.

Serve over steamed rice (optional) or just plain in a bowl (that’s what I did), squeezing fresh lemon juice over it, if desired, and garnishing with fresh cilantro (optional).


There are a whole lotta options with this stew so doctor it up however you like (or depending on what you have on hand).  It will taste different with different with lentils, but it’s always yummy!


  1. I’ve been wanting to make this soup for a long time. All the recipes that I’ve seen include apples.
    Great photos as always!

  2. I’ve never heard of this soup stew, it looks interesting. Your photos look wonderful.

  3. This looks delicious! I have put it on my “to make” list.

  4. Mmmmmmmmmm – definitely dinner tomorrow night! Looks like heaven on a spoon, thank you.

  5. I just found your site and I love what I see!
    I want to make your Mulligatawany Soup recipe for 10 people.
    Should I double this recipe? I will be serving with rice.

    • Excellent! I would double the recipe to ensure there is enough, but you will probably have leftovers. Let me know how it turns out. – H

      • Thank you for this recipe! I doubled the recipe as you suggested. The family LOVED this soup. The one change I did was to add a bit more curry and graham masala as they like their food with tons of flavor. I used the green lentils as I couldn’t find the black. I also made homemade garlic naan, which complemented the soup over rice. I read you are a former PNW girl! I live in Seattle and love the PNW. Looking forward to trying another of your recipes too!

  6. I made this over the weekend. Absolutely fabulous….and I passed the link to your blog on to friends, and they are looking forward to making it as well! Thanks so much for the recipe. :o)

  7. I made a batch of this last weekend and froze it in individual portions for lunches this week. All my co-workers have mentioned how great it smells. Unfortunately for them, they still don’t know how great it tastes :)

  8. I made this tonight for a soup fundraiser. I accidentally added the whole bag of lentils, about 2 cups, and then quickly doubled everything else. It came out great! This is the first time I’ve ever cooked lentils, thanks for the great recipe!

  9. Oh man, that looks so good, I adore lentils in all their forms. Bring on winter!

  10. This was very tasty! Even my husband, who never likes lentil dishes, loved this one.
    My only “problem” was that I used canned lentils, so the soup did not thicken much as the lentils did not pull in a lot of water. I’ll definitely be making this again.

  11. When you brought this over for lunch on Monday, and were awesome enough to leave me all the leftovers, I was in heaven. I had this for dinner Monday, lunch and dinner on Tuesday, and lunch on Wednesday. It was so good I just couldn’t stop! Yummmmm-o!

  12. This was exactly what I was hoping for; thank you so much! I added a little cayenne pepper and used red lentils, but followed the recipe exactly, otherwise. It’s perfect by itself, but the basmati rice was an excellent suggestion! Thank you!

  13. This sounds wonderful! I’ve been looking at a variety of recipes for Mulligatawny after trying one and love all the variations out there. The lentils in this version sound so good. Going on my list to try!

  14. Fantastic! Everyone loved it in my family, including my two kids, 6 and 8. Will definitely make again.
    I’ve made quite a few things from your site, and it all turns out wonderful. Thanks so much.

    • So glad you liked it! I’m making Mulligatawny this week as well. Soup is the perfect cold weather food. Best, Heather

  15. It can be tough to find the right ingredients for this blend in my area so I actually purchase the garam masala spice blend from RawSpiceBar’s and it was great!


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