Originally created 01/04/06

Steamy soup can ward off winter cold



Nothing beats the winter chill like a bowl of steaming soup, and this week I'm sharing an Easy Mulligatawny Soup that's full of flavor.

Mulligatawny is an Indian soup named for its peppery bite. Colonial British citizens stationed in India became fond of the dish and brought the recipe home with them. The chicken broth-based soup usually includes curry powder and cream, and many versions are spicy with peppers. My version is more family friendly than the original "pepper pot " and contains no peppers at all.

The recipe starts by sauteing some boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, then cooling and shredding them. When time is really short, I simply use the breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken in its place.

The soup's flavor base is a combination of chopped onion, celery and grated carrots, along with a secret flavor booster - shredded Granny Smith apple. Most supermarkets now carry packages of pre-chopped onion and celery, and bags of shredded carrots. These items can be pricey, but they do save preparation time.

The vegetables and apple are sauteed in oil until soft, and then minced garlic and curry powder are added. Yellow "American" curry powder can be used, but there are more flavorful alternatives at most supermarkets in the spice aisle. McCormick spices now offers "garam masala," a true Indian curry powder, that is more flavorful than the westernized version.

A can of undrained diced tomatoes and some reduced-sodium chicken broth are added to the aromatic vegetables, and the soup is simmered for 10 minutes. At this point, you can puree the soup with an inversion blender if you want a smooth soup. Or you can add the remaining ingredients: some freshly squeezed lemon juice, canned coconut milk and the shredded chicken. The soup then simmers until it is hot.

Canned coconut milk is available in the Asian foods section and should not be confused with the sweetened coconut milk such as Cocoa Lopez, which is used in frozen drinks.

Like most soups, the flavor of this one improves if made ahead, and it freezes beautifully. For a heartier soup, add a scoop of cooked basmati rice to each bowl before serving.

Easy Mulligatawny Soup

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 small onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 1 large clove

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until chicken is done, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet and add the onion, carrots, celery and apple. Saute until vegetables are very tender. Stir in the garlic and curry powder and simmer 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, if a smooth consistency is desired.

While the soup simmers, shred the chicken. Stir the shredded chicken, lemon juice and coconut milk into the soup and heat through. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: (Note: dietitian Rachel Drew says this recipe is an excellent source of protein and fiber): 314 calories, 23 grams fat (15 grams saturated), 19 milligrams cholesterol, 988 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Nutritional analysis provided by Registered Dietitian Rachel B. Drew, nutritional education specialist with the Richmond County School Nutrition Program, in conjunction with the Augusta Area Dietetic Association.

Coming next week: Quick Red Beans and Rice is a hearty winter entree that can be on the table in 20 minutes.

See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@comcast.net. You can find previous Quick Cooking recipes through the online archive at augustachronicle.com/karin.