When Mary Schoenlein, of the sorely missed bakery and lunch spot Mary’s Marvelous in East Hampton, decided to close her beloved shop’s doors back in September 2021, loyal customers were left longing for flavorful, hearty soups. Most notably: her vegetarian version of a Madras Indian staple, mulligatawny.
“We always had a robust soup at the store and started making mulligatawny around 12 years ago,” recounts Schoenlein. “It was a little funny in the beginning because people couldn’t pronounce it!”
Dating back to the 18th century, there are hundreds of varied recipes for this soup, often made with meat(usually chicken). It can be known as pepper water or curry soup, neither of which describes its complex deliciousness.
“A lot of things in it appeal to me: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots,” she says. “Originally the recipe was brothy with chicken, and then we started playing around with a vegetarian version, adding coconut milk and chickpeas. We just had to keep it on the menu and get people to try it. Once they did, they loved it. Vegetarian mulligatawny became one of our top sellers on our soup menu.”
With its vibrant color and distinct flavor, madras curry, a blend of earthy and fragrant spices is the key ingredient here and one that Schoenlein is very specific about. “I am very careful where I buy spices, and curry powder in particular as the quality and freshness of the spices are important.” Kalustyan’s in New York is a favorite of hers, but Citarella, too, carries it, typically.
While working on a future cookbook of recipes from Mary’s Marvelous, Schoenlein shares this favorite from an upcoming chapter. Pair it with some warmed naan bread sprinkled with za’atar for a familiar and comforting winter meal.
Mary’s mulligatawny soup
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, canola oil or ghee
- 4 medium Spanish onion peeled and cut into a 1/2" dice
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger grated
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 4 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 1 large tart apple peeled, seeded and cut into a 1/2" dice
- 6-8 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 cup cauliflower florets roughly chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into a 1/2" dice
- 2 cups green cabbage shredded
- 1 small red or green chili finely minced
- 2 cups cooked chick peas
- 1-2 cups coconut milk
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped