Chickpeas add depth to this spicy Indian-style soup
Happy World Cabbage Day!
OK, it’s not the best-known holiday. But we’ll take any chance to celebrate. So let’s get cruciferous.
Cabbage isn’t particularly traditional in mulligatawny soup. But we’d like to change that, because cabbage and Indian spices taste like they were made for each other. Our version of M-soup is also vegan and gluten free, so it will suit almost any diet. And it’s versatile: This soup makes a spicy starter, but is hearty enough to serve as a main.
Best of all, the flavor is wonderful. Once you taste this soup, you’ll be circling World Cabbage Day on the calendar. In red.
Recipe: Vegan Mulligatawny Soup with Cabbage
Mulligatawny soup probably originated as a sauce during the era when Britain ruled India. But because the typical formal English dinner at the time started with soup (and soups are not common in Indian cuisine), the sauce was thinned out with broth and served as a starter course.
There’s no definitive recipe for mulligatawny soup. Usually it contains meat (often chicken) and lentils. But not always. Sometimes it’s enhanced with rice. But again, not always. There are thousands of recipes for this dish, all of them somewhat different.
The only rule seems to be that the soup should be spicy. The word “mulligatawny” derives from the South Indian Tamil language, and means “pepper water.” Today, most mulligatawny soups are flavored with curry.
Prep time for this soup is about 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds another 30 minutes.
This recipe yields about 8 servings if served as a starter (or about 4 if served as a main course). Leftovers freeze well.
- 1 medium onion
- 1½-inch piece of ginger root
- 4 garlic cloves (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons dried ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons dried ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- ~1 pound cabbage (about half a head)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (may substitute neutral vegetable oil)
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomato
- 6 cups water
- freshly ground black pepper
- additional salt to taste (if necessary)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to finish the dish (optional, and to taste; see Notes)
- parsley for garnish (optional)
- First, prepare an onion/spice paste (it’s easiest if you use a food processor--see Notes if using a blender): Peel the onion, ginger root, and garlic. Chop all of them coarsely, then add them to the food processor. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pulse the food processor until the mixture turns to a fine paste. Set aside.
- Wash the cabbage and remove any discolored outer leaves. Core the cabbage, then chop it roughly into pieces of about an inch. Set aside.
- Heat a 4-quart stock pot or saucepan on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the onion/spice paste. Sauté the paste, stirring from time to time, for 3 or 4 minutes.
- While the onion/spice paste is cooking, open the cans of chickpeas and pour them into a colander or a fine mesh sieve. Rinse the chickpeas, then let them drain.
- Once the onion/spice mixture has cooked (Step 3), add the chopped cabbage, stir, and cook for a minute.
- Add the chickpeas, diced tomato, and water. Stir, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes (until the cabbage is tender).
- Taste the soup, then add freshly ground black pepper and additional salt if necessary. At this point, we like to squeeze lemon juice into the soup to sharpen the flavor (may substitute vinegar). Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a garnish of chopped parsley, if desired.
- If you’re using a blender to make the onion/spice paste (Step 1), you may want to add a bit of water to the blender jar to help form the paste. A tablespoon or two should do it.
- Adding a bit of acid (like lemon juice) can brighten flavor. If a dish seems to be lacking “snap”—but has enough salt—this will often help.
- You can add rice to mulligatawny soup for extra flavor and heartiness. We like to serve this as a brothy soup, but if you want more body, feel free to add a cup or so of cooked rice (we’d do it at the beginning of Step 6).
- Speaking of broth, we use water in this recipe because we’re making it vegan. Substituting chicken stock will add a bit of flavor.
- For even more flavor, you could stir in a cup or two of cooked, diced chicken. But then you’re going in a different direction with this dish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
- The spicing in this dish is fairly mild (particularly if you use only ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper). If you want a hotter taste, just increase the quantity of spices.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has bigger flakes than table salt, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly.” Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, use only about half as much as we suggest (Step 1). You can add more later if necessary.
“Delish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Never thought of using cabbage in mulligatawny soup. Nice variation.”
“Well, variety is the spice of life,” I said.
“Speaking of which,” said Mrs K R, “you’ve spiced this up perfectly. Subtle flavors, but tangy.”
“Yup,” I said. “Guess you can say I souped it up.”
Mrs K R shot me a look. “Those puns won’t curry favor with me, kitchen boy.”
Better stop now. She’s brothing at the mouth.
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Duck, Lentil, and Kale Soup
Cabbage, Kielbasa, adn Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup
Bean and Cabbage Soup
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Easy Tandoori Chicken
Dal with Swiss Chard
Spicy Indian Poatoes with Ginger and Garlic
Or check out the index for more recipes
That bowl looks like a GOLDMINE! So much goodness, flavor, glamour!
Thanks a bunch for serving Cabbage in a whole new gorgeous way. Love it!
Looking at the list of ingredients and spices. . . this is definitely very flavorful soup. Yummy post, John. Thanks.
Hi Nusrat, lotta gold in this recipe. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ray, this is really good stuff! Tons of flavor -- but not overpowering. Thanks for the comment.
Well, they've just got a holiday for everything, don't they? I really do love a good healthy, vegan, gf soup and make them all the time. This will be a great way to mix things up.
Hi Laura, there really does seem to be a holiday for everything! Which is fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Cabbage is g great vegetable to make soups. With all the spices, I bet this will be heck of flavorful soup! Perfect!
This is so interesting John, I would love to try this recipe. I will up the cayenne pepper and use chicken broth instead of water. Hmmm I may also add rice and chicken pieces. This is really lovely recipe and my imagination is going wild here :). Thanks for the recipe and for sharing Louise blog with us.
World Cabbage Day???? WoW! That is a new one for me, and so is this beautiful soup! I love the mix of flavors that make the colors in this soup 'pop'. Thanks for sharing :)
Hi John , what a great soup , I know it's deliciously good with all the tangy flavors . I will make this soup this week , I will have jalapenos on the side with cornbread ... HMmmm good . Pinning , thanks for sharing :)
One of my favorite soups is mulligatawany soup but the ones I've had use coconut milk it seems. This sounds very tasty. I rarely make it though since my husbands not a fan of curry. Looks beautiful!
Only a food blogger would know that it's world cabbage day! Nevertheless, if it's an excuse to eat your veggie packed soup, I'm willing to celebrate!
"Kitchen Boy" - I like it! And I like this soup. We love cabbage and spicy too - so this is going on the list of must make recipes. Fast, delicious and seriously pretty - another great recipe John! Love the history too.
Soups with cabbage in it CALL TO ME!! FRIGGIN LOVE!
Pretty much my type of dish.Love all those spices and Indian flavors, one of my fave cuisines. In addition, it is vegan!
I think I just love the word "mullitawny" or maybe that there's so many ways to make it. I think there's a head of cabbage in the kitchen . . . .
What a wonderful surprise for World Cabbage Day, John, Mulligatawny Soup with Cabbage!!!
I have fond memories of Mulligatawny Soup but unfortunately I gaven't had it in years and certainly not with cabbage! What a creative twist. Love, love, love the "snap" of lemon, citrus makes most everything better:)
Thank you so much for celebrating World Cabbage Day with us John. I really appreciate the shout-out too. I've linked your belly warming soup on my post:)
Hi Holly, isn't cabbage nice in soup? Lovely flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amira, upping the cayenne is a good idea! This is really quite mild as written, but there's certainly enough flavor to keep your interest. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat, cabbage day is pretty exciting, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, you could actually add jalapenos to the soup if you wanted to add extra flavor! In fact, we've made it that way. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi VIcki, a lot do use coconut milk. There are really countless ways to make this! We were looking for a nice, brothy soup with tons of flavor and not too many calories, so went this direction. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, I never knew about these national/world food days until I started blogging! My favorite is December 30 -- National Bicarbonate of Soda Day. What?!!!! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, :-) This is truly good stuff -- and I do suggest increasing the spice quantities if you like spicy. Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, isn't this great? We love it too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, we love meat, but love all the interesting flavors you can come up with for vegetarian/vegan dishes. This is really a good one! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rosemary, that's such a cool word, isn't it? And the soup is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, always glad to give you a shout out! And this is such a worthy soup for World Cabbage Day. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hahaha @ kitchen boy! Too funny. Soup is my all time favorite food because you can change it up in so many ways to make it your own. Great recipe for one of the tastiest soups, in my opinion. Loving your photos as always :)
You two and your puns! I've not had this type of soup before. It looks hearty and tasty.
Fabulous and I am sure delicious! I have never had Mulligatawny Soup before, but I love all of the ingredients...the added cabbage is delightful. This bowl of soup is great with all of the spice in it. I am not one for real heavy spice, but still like a little heat once and awhile. Love the word “mulligatawny” which comes from the Indian Tamil language, and means “pepper water.” Such interesting info on your blogs..thanks for sharing this one, I am printing it out and will try this... Have a great rest of the week..
My local 'go to' restaurant for soup make a great version of this.
I've never tried it. Why? No idea. Lazy might be one answer, however. This looks pretty easy. Hey Kitchen Boy----Ha. I like it. I wouldn't mind being called Kitchen Girl. Anything even make a vague reference to possibly being a girl does get me
'souped' up and definitely 'curries' favor with me big time.
I love any chance to celebrate too! Cabbage day? Why not?! Love it!
Hi Robyn, :-) We enjoy soup throughout the year, but particularly when it's cold. Love how versatile it is! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, we just can't resist those puns. Probably signs of a weak mind. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, this certainly has spice, and you do taste it. But it's pretty mild -- I think you'll like it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carol, LOL! This really is an easy soup. Which makes it perfect for us! :-) Thanks for the comment.
No way, it's cabbage day? What will they think of next?? Well anyway, I love this soup, my husband and I discovered in when we lived in London for a year --- what a great idea to make it vegan, I bet it has tons more flavor than most vegan soups.
My "almost" vegetarian daughter will love this version of a soup she already adores. I can't wait to make it for her.
Hi Sue, don't you love all of these "days?" So much fun! And this really does have a ton of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, this is one of those dishes that even meat lovers will like! Don't even realize it doesn't contain meat until you're told. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, we're all for a celebration. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This recipe is loaded with flavors. Can't wait to try this out. Thank you for a lovely share!
This is a hearty stew perfect for winter months and uses turmeric - a healthy spice I keep meaning to add to my recipes. Really great dish!
Hi Kushi, this really has a lot of flavor, doesn't it? Healthy, too -- always a plus. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, turmeric is good stuff, isn't it? And gives this soup a nice yellow hue. Thanks for the comment.
I love cabbage and always have some around. Never have tried this though. It looks so sunny, I think it would be perfect for a cold winter day!
Really it means pepper water? Cool fact to know. And really World Cabbage Day? I agree the spices of India marry well with this veggie. Looks like a superb soup indeed John!
"World Cabbage Day" made me laugh. Mainly because just recently I was reviewing a foodie calendar of all the "holidays" -- yes, tater tots was on there. But hey, I'm a love of food and up to celebrate so long as friends and family are gathered at the table -- they would be happy to gather around this soup to break some bread together. :)
John, I can't believe I missed world cabbage day! (I've had to take an unexpected break from blogging but glad I'm back in time for this amazing soup!) I love cabbage so much, I'm almost embarrassed to admit it! But aside from the cabbage, this soup looks like it is packed with great flavor. And perfect for a cold or rainy day! Beautiful! : )
Hi Abbe, this is a sunny looking dish! Turmeric really adds a lot of color. And flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, the pepper water thing surprised me, too. And this is a superb soup! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, gosh, wonder what we'll do for tater tot day! :D Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, glad to see you back blogging! Cabbage is wonderful, isn't it? Didn't like it for years -- it my youth it was always overcooked -- but I've really come to love it. Thanks for the comment.
Looks like I'll now have to circle World Cabbage Day for observing next year. I've always wondered about the origin of the name 'Mulligatawny'- I thought it might have come from the deep South of the USA. Can't go wrong with a recipe that has chick peas in it- thanks for the recipe!
Hi Fran, World Cabbage Day is too important to miss. :D Thanks for the comment.
I love cabbage and this looks like the perfect recipe! So yummy and comforting :) Thank you for a great dish!!
Hi Dana, cabbage is good stuff, isn't it? Love it in this soup! Thanks for the comment.
World Cabbage Day??? Who knew! Of course, I have no problem celebrating World Chocolate Day. But cabbage, huh? Well, this soup looks so divine, you might just entice me to go buy a head at the grocery store to celebrate.
Hi Carolyn, don't you love all these food days? Who gets to be in charge of making them up? :-) Anyway, this is really good -- worth celebrating cabbage day just to eat this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, that Mrs Riff is so funny, love her comments! Anyway, wonderful soup, we don't eat cabbage enough. Happy week-end to you!
Hi Cheri, Mrs KR is a card, isn't she? :D We don't eat cabbage enough either -- hence, this soup! Thanks for the comment.
That looks simply amazing. Love love mulligatawny and thank you so much for the mention. Cabbage day, now that is awesome. We love cabbage and I completely agree with you that cabbage and chickpeas are perfect in this soup. It really takes well to Indian spices. I am loving this chunky yummy soup.
Great one my friend. Have a wonderful weekend.
Hi Asha, happy for the mention. And cabbage really works well in this soup -- the spices just seem made for it. Thanks for the comment.
I was just reading about Cabbage Day on Louise's site. I was needing a hearty recipe. It's my turn to feed the teachers at P/T conferences this week I have a vegetarian on staff that always feels left out.
What do you mean not the best known holiday? I pulled my cabbage costume from out of the attic and I'm ready to go. I've got my book of cabbage carols and I've even splashed a little sauerkraut water behind each ear. And now (thanks to you) I've got my mulligatawny soup too. GREG
Hi Debra, this is really a tasty dish! Everyone will enjoy it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, ah, yes, cabbage carols! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm delighted to learn there's a Cabbage Day, as cabbage often doesn't seem to get the appreciation it deserves. I haven't made mulligatawny soup in ages so thank you for sharing your delicious recipe - I'm inspired!
I could go with cabbage in just about any soup!
Hi Hannah, cabbage is really unloved in the US, isn't it? Mainly used for coleslaw. But you can do so much more with it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, cabbage really adds a lot of depth of flavor, doesn't it? Just wonderful in soup! Thanks for the comment.
I love your version of this, it looks so colourful and full of flavour.
Hi Caroline, this really is a nice version of this classic soup! Cabbage and curry really are a good combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Have never made a mulligatawny soup and really didn't know much about it. Thanks for the info! Of course you caught my attention with "The only rule seems to be that the soup should be spicy". :) Yours version looks quite healthy and hearty and I love all the seasoning! Great recipe John!
Hi MJ, we have some Hatch green chilies in the freezer and toyed with the idea of a New Mexico-style M-soup. Still may do it sometime -- although you'd be better at that, I think. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love these soup recipes you've posted lately! I've never tried Mulligatawny soup, but I'm looking forward to it! Thanks for sharing this healthy recipe :)
Hi Marcella,we're kinda soup crazed> :-)But this is a particularly goo done! Thanks for the comment.
John, I missed the holiday, but I would love your soup.
This soup looks so hearty and filling! Vegan main dishes like this are always a great find!
Hi Madonna, there's always next year. :-) And really, cabbage is so good, every day should be cabbage day! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Melanie, this really is a great dish, isn't it? So good, so satisfying. Winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Your version of this sounds great, so much to customize here and play with flavor wise. I love it!
Hi Mary, cabbage really works so well in this soup. A fun (and tasty!) way to make it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I missed world cabbage day. #NOOOOOO Love your soup, it is a great colour, I've not tried the vegan version of this soup before, it looks like I've been missing out. Thanks for sharing, I'll be sure to add cabbage day to my calendar. :)
Hi Anna, cabbage day is so much fun! Plus think of all the great stuff we get to eat. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and your mulligatawny soup is a great way to celebrate this spice. I think I will be circling this cabbage holiday in rd for next year just so I can make your soup-er soup.
You know, John, I've never tried mulligatawny soup. I do love cabbage in soup, however, and adding it here is a definite bonus. This may be vegan but, looking over the ingredients, I can see it doesn't want for flavor. I think that's the biggest fear when people see something is vegan. Maybe that once was the case but certainly not any more. Thanks for sharing another great one, John
Hi Bobbi, termeric is almost a magic spice, isn't it? So good, and so good for you! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, we actually love a lot of vegan/vegetarian fare. It an be SO good, and this soup is an excellent example of that. Will never give up meat, but could easily live on this soup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love cabbage in soup. Your mulligatawny soup looks wonderful!
Hi Dawn, cabbage is such a great ingredient, isn't it? Agree that's it's wonderful in soup! Thanks for the comment.
That looks really good for a vegan soup! I got to try it to find out
This soup looks like something I would really like.
Hi Raymund, this has got tons of flavor! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, I bet you wold like it! Really flavorful. Really. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Loved the chunky soup with the incorporation of cabbage and chickpeas. Nice flavorful and spicy soup for the cold days! I didn't know that the word was derived from Tamil language. Nice info!! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Shibi, isn't this a great soup? So much flavor! And so good for one, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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