This soup took me all weekend to make, but only because I smoked the chicken all day Saturday and simmered the carcass all Saturday night to make stock. This isn’t the way it needs to be. Before you read any further, let me put your fears to rest: you do NOT need to cook all weekend to make this soup. It can be made in less than an hour, on a stovetop, with store-bought ingredients and simple flavors. My version is just for those who want to step it up a few notches and add a ton of flavor … just because. If you have a smoker, I highly recommend doing it this way. If not, you will still have an epic soup.
My recipe is really a conglomeration of a few different variations. One of them is from one of my cooking idols, Ree Drummond, and her Pioneer Woman blog — and if you are making a quick version of this soup, I highly recommend her easy recipe here. I also like to make soups in my slow cooker and I personally prefer chunky soups with lots of veggies, so I incorporated a few other recipes into mine.
I started this Weekend Mulligatawny soup the way all of my favorite homemade soups and stews begin: with a smoked beer-can chicken. I have made this many times with varying degrees of deliciousness; with just a beer can full of beer (surprisingly this is better with a cheap, domestic Bud Light-sort of brew than it is with a super-thick, hoppy ale or bitter Belgian lager), with orange juice and chardonnay for a simulated mimosa (stellar over mesquite wood chips), and sangria (which wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked, but I guess red wine isn’t as strong a flavor so it was hard to compete with the chicken and wood smoke, flavor-wise). I love experimenting with beer-can chickens and what flavor combinations work best.
So, Saturday was the first day of the Weekend Mulligatawny project, and it was chicken-smoking day. This time, I decided to use some apple cider syrup (really, a failed apple cider jelly experiment but man, that syrup KICKS ASS!) and a mixture of apple wood and hickory in the smoker. The chicken itself is coated in a little oil and some Cajun spices. The apple cider jelly gave the chicken meat a slightly sweet and fruity flavor.
When this yummy chicken is ready, the bones literally will come off — seriously, use caution when taking it off of the grill because the bones will slip off of the tender meat and you might drop the whole thing if you’re not careful. (I recommend grabbing the top of the bird with a pair of tongs, and then slipping a spatula underneath the can to transfer it to a big pot or bowl.) After you have removed a good portion of the meat from the chicken (leave some on the bird), drop the bones and skin in the crock pot and cover with water. Cook on low overnight (at least 6-8 hours).
So, to recap: Saturday was to smoke the chicken, Saturday night was to let it simmer and make a stock.
Sunday morning was when I had to get to work. (And just to clarify, if you’re not smoking your chicken and making your own stock, you can just start at this step.)
Weekend Smoked Mulligatawny Soup
(Doing this homemade from the start is the best guarantee of packing in the flavor, but there’s nothing wrong with using pre-made stock and non-smoked chicken. I guess.)
- 1 whole smoked chicken and the stock made from the chicken, bones and skin removed (or about 2-3 lbs chicken and 1 quart chicken stock)
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks*
- 2 granny smith apples
- 1 large leek
- 1 large red onion
- 2-3 large carrots, peeled
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini(s)
- 1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), smashed
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 3 tbsp. yellow curry
- 3 tbsp. turmeric
- 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- fresh lemon for garnish
- crusty bread for serving
Chop the apples, onion, garlic, carrot, zucchini, celery and leek, and add to the pot. If you are making your own stock, the best way is to remove all the chicken, skin and bones with a strainer spoon, then let it cool a little, then pull the meat off of the bones with your clean fingers and discard the bones and skin (this will not be difficult – after smoking all day and simmering all night, the chicken will literally fall apart). If you are using pre-made stock, just add it to the pot with your chicken, cut into small (bite-sized) chunks.
(*If you are making this the quick way without a smoked chicken and homemade stock, you can leave out this additional bit of chicken. I found that after I had helped myself to a few chunks of smoked chicken late Saturday night, there wasn’t really enough for a huge pot of soup, so I added a bit more chicken on Sunday morning, in the form of a chopped-up boneless/skinless breast.)
I should also mention at this point that although Mulligatawny is traditionally made with chicken, it is also often a vegetarian soup. To make this vegetarian, simply omit the chicken altogether and use a vegetarian stock (homemade or store-bought) instead of chicken stock. If you are taking this route I would recommend adding more vegetables, such as bok choy, squash, cabbage, cauliflower, or even mushrooms (but add them at the end of cooking so they don’t get too soggy), and dried fillers such as lentils, split peas, or even dried beans.
Add the spices, chickpeas and coconut milk and let simmer on low setting for at least 5 hours. Sample the broth and add more spices if necessary, then let simmer for at least another hour or two.
Before serving, check the spices again and make sure it is amply flavored. As you can see, it’s not incredibly spicy or peppery, so feel free to kick the heat up a little if you like.
Serve with a wedge of lemon (just a dash of juice on top goes A LONG WAY), and a hunk of crusty bread for sopping up that delicious smoky broth.