Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup for the Soul

It has been snowing cats, dogs and elephants for the past couple days, so I've decided to make the greatest soup in the world: Mulligatawny soup, the Indian version of chicken noodle. No, it's not great because of Seinfeld. It's great because the broth is so simple and round and harmonious that it makes regular chicken soup seem alienating and cold.

This was introduced to me by one of my roommates in college who said, "it doesn't really matter what you put in it because of the broth- you could put a boot in it and it would still be amazing."

This is best when you use a leftover roasted chicken- pick any leftover chicken from the carcass and throw all the bones in a pot. Top with water, onion skins and any other veggie scraps to make the stock. If all you have is the chicken, that is totally okay for this recipe.

Making stock may seem like an overwhelming task but once it's on the stove, you can forget about it and go about your business. Once it barely boils, I turn the heat down to low and prepare other meals or clean the house for the next hour or two. Go on facebook. Call your mother and let her talk your ear off. The longer you cook your stock, the richer it gets.

If time is of the essence, you can always cheat with bouillon cubes or the boxed stock, but the integrity of the final broth will be compromised.

Once your stock is ready, strain and set aside.

Now for the soup. The best part is, there are only six ingredients. You won't believe how easy it is.

As with everything you prepare, it's best getting all your ingredients chopped and ready so you don't have interruptions along the way.

Chop 1 small onion, small dice
Chop 2 garlic cloves fine
Peel and mince a small piece of fresh ginger (not much bigger than your thumb)
And remember, you've already got your chicken pieces set aside (the darker the meat, the better, and you don't need much more than half a chicken)

Now we're ready to go. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. NOT olive oil- this is India, not Italy. Cook onion till it begins to caramelize and add the garlic and ginger. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder and the chicken with a couple tablespoons of water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. When the curry is mixed in and absorbed, you can add the chicken stock. Simmer at least 15 minutes.

This is how you can utilize every square inch of your kitchen. (This is all the work space I get in my Brooklyn kitchen):

When you are five minutes away from serving, add 1 cup of coconut milk. Let it simmer 5 minutes and serve with a slice of lemon. This is great over rice or on its own.

Enjoy and please leave a comment if it changes your life as it has mine.

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