Why do people always start eating salads in January? I understand the whole eating healthy thing, and yes there are some very good winter salads out there. I'm really fond of all the raw kale salads I have been seeing lately. The problem for me is that it is cold outside, and when I come inside I want something to warm me up. A cold salad with winter lettuce and sad grocery store vegetables doesn't do it for me. There are so many wonderful, healthy, and most importantly hot soups you could have. Plus, I know from living in Fairbanks for a few years that as soon as the light starts coming back I will start craving crunchy, raw, green vegetables. So, why not eat the cooked ones if that's what my body is telling me? Right? Good, I'm glad we all can agree on that!
Mulligatawny has been on my list of soups to make for a really long time. There was a little cafe in Port Townsend, Washington that made a really good one, but it has been so long that I could barely tell you what it was like except for the fact that it had chicken and apples in it. So, in looking for a recipe it was key that I find one with apples. So, the search was on. I found a few recipes that sounded pretty good, but either they didn't have apples or they were missing some other key ingredient. Then I found a recipe that had banana that intrigued me. Some of the recipes had coconut or coconut milk and that sounded good too. I couldn't find a recipe that had everything I wanted until I picked up a copy of the Downton Abbey cookbook at the bookstore one day. I didn't have any intention on buying it, but I do have a few friends who watch the show pretty religiously. We don't have regular television at our house, so I have never seen it, although I am tempted to rent it one of these days. As I flipped through the cookbook I saw a recipe for Mulligatawny that sealed the deal. This recipe had a lot of the things I wanted, although the recipe was huge! I halved the recipe and still nearly overflowed my 5 1/2 quart dutch oven. I also pulled in many of the elements from the other recipes that I had seen and liked. Last week I started this soup with no less than 8 cookbooks and magazines spread out on my kitchen counter, I barely had space to cook. I knew from previous experience with Indian cooking that it is important to build several layers of flavor and that is what I set out to do. In the end I had an enormous ingredient list, but I took good notes so I will be able to make this one again. Don't worry, it's not as intimidating as it looks. This is however a good one to feed a crowd. Serve it with the Naan Bread I posted the other day and you will have a warm, comforting winter dinner.
Mulligatawny with Chicken and Apples
adapted from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 medium banana, very ripe and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 carrots, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
2 medium onions, diced small
1 leek, sliced thin, white and light green parts only
1 tbsp. curry powder (I used hot curry powder)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. Vietnamese cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
8 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
3 medium chicken breasts, about 1 1/2 lbs. (optional)
1 cup long grain white or brown rice
2 granny smith or other tart apple, diced medium
1 cup yogurt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
chopped cilantro or parsley
slivered almonds, toasted
Place the garlic, ginger, and banana in the bowl of a small food processor (or use a mortar and pestle) and puree until it is a thick paste. Set aside.
Melt butter to a large stock pot or dutch oven (at least 5 1/2 quart) over medium heat. When butter has melted add carrots, celery, onion, and leek. Cook, stirring often until onions are soft and translucent. Add spices(including salt and pepper) one at a time, stirring after each addition. Pour in chicken stock, add chicken breasts and rice. Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat to keep a low simmer. Let simmer for about 45 minutes and remove chicken breasts. Dice chicken and return to pot. Turn heat down to low and add yogurt, stirring well to combine. Stir in lemon juice and finally the coconut milk. Gradually heat the Mulligatawny to serving temperature, don't allow to boil as your yogurt may curdle. top with cilantro or parsley, and almonds.