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Instant pot mulligatawny soup is just the sort of meal I want in the fall. It’s easy to make, full of curry flavor, and loaded with vegetables. This recipe is vegetarian and, if you leave out the butter, also vegan.
What is mulligatawny soup and where did it come from?
Mulligatawny is a soup that usually includes apples, lentils, and rice in a broth seasoned with curry powder and other Indian spices and often fortified with heavy cream. It’s a bit sweet, a bit spicy, and totally satisfying.
Mulligatawny soup is a fusion dish invented by the English based on an Indian sauce recipe. The name “mulligatawny,” apparently, comes from the Tamil words for “pepper water” (
I make my version with red lentils, mainly because I like the color, and brown basmati rice. Instead of cream, I use full-fat coconut milk, both to make it vegan friendly (using only oil instead of butter, of course) and because I adore the subtle coconut flavor. You can substitute cream if you like, or any non-dairy milk substitute.
What to serve with Instant Pot mulligatawny soup?
Thick with lentils and rice and loaded with vegetables and apples, this soup makes a hearty meal. Some Butter Garlic Naan or papadum (pictured) make a nice accompaniment because you can dunk them in the soup and add extra texture. You don’t need anything else, honestly.
I do love to top it with my famous Caramelized Cashews and Raisins, but just a sprinkling of chopped cilantro works, too. You can also add chopped, roasted cashews for a bit of texture.
Can you make Instant Pot Mulligatawny Soup ahead and freeze it?
Yes! This recipe makes a large batch (feel free to halve the recipe if it seems like too much)—10 generous servings—but it keeps well. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 3 months. I like to freeze it in quart-size, freezer-safe resealable plastic bags. This size fits nicely into an Instant Pot (3- or 6-quart size) for thawing. I just run the bag briefly under hot water and then slit it open and slide the frozen soup into the pot.
Can you make this recipe on the stovetop? Yes!
This recipe was developed for the Instant Pot, but you can absolutely make it on the stovetop. In fact, the recipe instructions are exactly the same for the stovetop except that instead of cooking it at high pressure for 10 minutes (step 4), you’ll cook it, covered, at a low simmer on the stovetop for 30 to 35 minutes.
Use a stockpot or Dutch oven and do steps 1 through 3 over medium-high heat on the stovetop.
Should I call it “Hugh Jackman Soup”?
This soup is so good that someone made it for Hugh Jackman (yeah, the real Hugh Jackman, aka Wolverine!) He loved it and I know you will, too!
If you love this soup, try this creamy Tortellini Soup, or try some of my other soup recipes like our Incredibly Easy Tomato Soup, Corn and Tomato Soup with Fresh Basil, or my mom’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup that was served at Chez Panisse.
More Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love
- Instant Pot Duck Confit
- Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric
- Instant Pot Pumpkin Black Bean Chili
- How to Cook a Whole Chicken in an Instant Pot
Instant Pot Mulligatawny Soup
vegetables. This recipe is vegetarian and, if you leave out the butter, also vegan, but you can always add shredded chicken if you like. The Caramelized Cashews and Raisins garnish is optional, but so worth the little bit of extra effort.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil, unsalted butter, or ghee)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 to 4 red chiles like serrano or jalapeño, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne optional
- 3 large granny smith apples peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup uncooked red lentils
- ½ cup brown basmati rice
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 13 ½-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- Caramelized Cashews and Raisins optional
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Heat the Instant Pot on the sauté setting and add the oil. When hot, add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chilies, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, pepper, and cayenne, if using. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more. Stir in the apples and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for another 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the lentils, rice, and broth and bring to a boil. Turn the pot off.
- Cover the pot and turn the valve to the sealing position. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. When the cooking time is up, quick release the pressure.
- Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a countertop blender), puree the soup, leaving some chunks for texture.
- Stir in the coconut milk and reheat if needed.
- Serve hot, topped with the Caramelized Cashew and Raisin Garnish, if using, and chopped cilantro.
20 thoughts on “Instant Pot Mulligatawny Soup”
this recipe is OUTSTANDING! The caramelized cashews and raisins really add a depth that isn’t even needed, but really takes it over the top. I can’t wait for my leftovers today! I can’t recommend this recipe enough!
Thanks, Adrian! I’m so glad you liked the soup! And yes, the caramelized cashews and raisins are insane. I want to put them on everrrrrything. But especially a hot bowl of mulligatawny soup!
I want to make this as an appetizer. Do you think I can make it without the rice as we will be having couscous with the main course? I plan on serving the soup with grilled naan bread on the side already so I’m trying to cut out some starch lol. Thank you!
Hi Mariem, thanks for posting! You can make it without the rice if you want–the soup will have a thinner, soupier consistency. But just be aware that it won’t be a true mulligatawny soup, which, by definition, contains both rice and lentils. Should still be delicious, though!
Question – should the rice be cooked already when adding it to the pot? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this!
Hi Carol. No the rice should not be cooked before adding it. It will cook along with everything else.
Quick question: is it red paprika or smoked paprika, here? Thank you in advance! and sorry if it’s a silly question.
Hi Sue, Just regular paprika here. I wouldn’t use smoked as it will change the flavor quite a bit and I’m not sure how it would be. If you only have smoked paprika, I would probably leave it out.
Thank you! I actually only have red paprika, so I am relieved! 🙂
Is the liquid of the tomatoes supposed to be drained out? Is there a typo in the ingredients? My soup was really runny. I had to drain it out through a sieve. Could not get it thick like your’s and the color was much redder. Too thin to use my immersion blender. What could I have done wrong?
P.S. I followed the directions exactly.
Hi Lucy, I am not sure what you could have done wrong other than maybe mis-measuring? I do not drain the tomatoes and the soup comes out quite thick. I guess you could try adding less water or broth or more rice/lentils, but the rice absorbs a lot of water and the lentils should break down enough that they thicken it, as well. If you want to thicken it up now, I would add more rice and simmer it with the rice for 30 or 40 minutes, until the rice is very soft.
How would I adjust this recipe to use regular Basmati instead of brown (that’s what I have in my house)? Thank you!
Hi Nancy, I haven’t made it with regular basmati, but I’m sure it would be fine. You could probably reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes or so.
I’ll comment because this recipe deserves praise. An excellent soup with incredible flavor. Thank you for posting this recipe.
Can this recipe be made with a slow cooker instead of a Instant pot? If so, what adjustments would have to be made?
This is my absolute FAVORITE soup recipe! It’s outstanding and the topping makes it irresistible. My husband has been greeting each day this week with the statement, “It’s Soup Weather!” I started the week with his favorites and tonight, it’s mine: Mulligatawny for EVERYONE! I’ve endured many mediocre attempts at mulligatawny before finding yours; Thanks for this recipe.
Mine too! I’m so glad you love it as much as I do! Thank you for letting me know 🙂
Hi. What can you substitute for the jalapeno or serrano peppers? I don’t like hot peppers.
You can leave out the hot peppers if you like.
Absolutely delicious, especially with the cashew and raisins on top! I served it over roasted cauliflower but could see adding shredded chicken to it next time! I only had smoked paprika and will omit that next time. The curry you use will be important here. Loved it and will make it again. Thanks!