Confession: I am a serious recipe tweaker. I cannot leave a recipe alone for the life of me. Case in point, my inner monologue while baking: “Just a teaspoon of cinnamon, you say? Well then I think I’ll use 2 teaspoons… and a dash of nutmeg… and ginger… and cloves… hmmm, what else goes with cinnamon?”.
Now for the most part tampering with recipes doesn’t damage the outcome of my dishes. I’m no culinary expert, but as far as cooking and baking goes I’m pretty confident in the kitchen. I won’t lie, every once in a blue moon I make an adjustment that sends a dish straight to the trash (BT dubs, blue moons typically occur once every three years. You can file that under random trivia facts, thankyouverymuch). But that’s more likely to happen as a result of my not paying attention and accidentally adding chili powder to the oatmeal instead of the cinnamon (true story).
The only thing that truly falters my confidence is preparing a dish that is completely foreign to me, such as my recent mulligatawny soup venture. I happened across an article that mentioned the soup, and after googling it to find out what the heck it is I decided that it sounded like something I’d like to try. I found THIS recipe on allrecipes.com and figured that if 573 people felt compelled to write raving reviews it must be a safe bet. I printed it out, sat down with my pen, and went to work on editing the entire thing. First, double the entire recipe. Second, add things that I assume would be complimentary to the existing ingredient list. Third, think up substitutes for half of the ingredients, just because. Fourth, change the process. Fifth, cross my fingers.
I have no idea what mulligatawny soup is supposed to taste like. I don’t know if what I made even vaguely resembles mulligatawny soup. But it was GOOD. So good that we had to say no when Emma (my three year old mini-foodie) asked for a fourth helping. Perhaps one day I’ll come across it on a restaurant menu and order it just out of curiosity. In the meantime, I have what I think is mulligatawny soup and I like it.
I’m looking to beef up my soup repertoire this season so I’m curious, what’s your favorite soup? Tell us yours in the comments section below!
Mulligatawny Soup (adapted from THIS recipe)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 teaspoons curry powder
1.5 teaspoons garam masala
8 cups water
2 tablespoons bouillon
2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pinches dried thyme
1 cup milk (I used 1%, you can use any)
1 tablespoon butter
1 heaping teaspoon all purpose flour
1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in 3 tablespoons butter and olive oil. In a small bowl combine the 3 tablespoons of flour, curry powder and garam masala. Add spice mix to pot and sautee for 3 more minutes. Add water and bouillon to pot, mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer about 1/2 hour. Remove from heat and puree soup with a stick blender.
2. Add apples, rice, chicken, salt, pepper and thyme. Simmer over medium-low heat 15-20 minutes, or until rice is done.
3. While the soup is simmering to cook the rice, prepare white sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir until the butter and flour are well combined and fragrant (it should smell kind of nutty, be careful not to burn the butter). Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly until it thickens.
4. When the rice is done, whisk the white sauce into the soup to combine and serve. Makes 6-8 servings
A few tips and tricks:
* I use bouillon, but you can use chicken stock or broth instead. I just happen to buy the ginormous jar o’ bouillon at Costco so that’s what I have on hand. I don’t add any extra salt when I use my hella salty bouillon, but salt to taste if you use chicken stock or broth.
*Garam masala is an indian spice mix that I just recently discovered and I’m obsessed with it. It can be tricky to find, I had to trek to Whole Foods to find it after striking out at three local grocers, but you can get it on Amazon.com if you can’t find it locally or make your own (try THIS recipe).
*For the saute you can do all butter or all olive oil instead of the combination of the two.
*I pureed my soup because my kids have an aversion to vegetables floating around in their bowls (they love veggies, just not “soup” veggies). You can leave it un-pureed if you want to skip that step, or you can also add the apples to the saute and puree those also if you think fruit in your soup is weird. I dared NOT puree the apples because my kids are all like “fruit soup? hells yeah!” (they don’t really say “hells yeah”, they’re three and four, but you get the point).
*I made a white sauce for that uber creamy factor, but you can skip that step and do a simple substitute. The original recipe called for heavy cream but you could do half and half, regular milk, a dollop of sour cream, whatever floats your boat. Or if you’re waist-watching, skip that altogether. Pureeing the soup initially gives it a creamy quality that can compensate for the lack of additions.