Vegetable Mulligatawny Soup

The Tamil words milagu tannir mean "pepper-water," so it is not surprising this vegetable soup has a peppery bite. You can add 4 tablespoons[ of red lentils, if you so desire. The soup is fairly thick but may be thinned out with as much stock as you wish. In its thick version, it makes a very good sauce for hard-boiled eggs. Serve as a first course or a light meal with crusty bread, fried croutons or plain rice. Offer lime wedges on the side.]

Yield:
Serves 4 to 6
Level:
Intermediate
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable stock ( bouillon cubes may be used here)
  • 2 small potatoes (8 ounces), peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 small turnips (8 ounces), peeled and diced
  • 12 fresh curry leaves or 8 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • Lime wedges for serving
Directions

Put the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and fennel seeds in a small cast-iron frying pan and set over medium-high heat. Stir and roast until the spices emit a roasted aroma and some turn a shade darker. Empty into a plate to cool, then grind in a clean coffee grinder or other spice grinder. (It is a good idea to sift the ground spices through a fine sieve, stirring them about with a spoon as they pass slowly through the mesh. This is not absolutely necessary, but it makes for a finer soup.) Add the turmeric and cayenne to the spice mixture.

Put the chickpea flour in a bowl. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the stock, mixing as you go. Add another 4 cups of stock and mix.

Combine the chickpea flour mixture, spices, all the vegetables, the curry leaves, garlic, onion, and ginger in a large pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Blend the soup in a blender in several batches, if necessary, and then press through a coarse sieve. Return the soup to the soup pan, add the coconut milk and salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors; thin out with more stock, as needed. Serve hot with lime wedges.


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