During our New Hampshire hiking trip, we enjoyed a delicious soup while staying at Stonehurst Manor. Each night they had two homemade soups to select from with Murgh Mumtaz Mahal as a choice. What an exotic name! I just had to try this soup that I could not pronounce or even spell! That first bowl starts my love affair with learning how to make this soup. This my version of Chicken Curry Soup with its brown sauce and fragrant spices!Jump to Recipe
What I Learned About Making Chicken Curry Soup
After enjoying my first bowl, started my quest for a recipe. A quick google search returns a ton of recipes. And I was not really sure of the ingredients except for cashews, pistachios and apples. The soup was on the menu every night. Each server provided a different description and I took copious notes. Luckily over the years people familiar with this soup, provided valuable input after reading or trying my version. And I am sharing with you what I learned so you can determine how to make this fantastic Chicken Curry Soup!
Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream
Ok, let’s talk about coconut milk and coconut cream. (Plus there are sweetened and unsweetened versions.) It can be a bit overwhelming standing in the grocery aisle wondering which one to purchase. As a rule of thumb, if you remove the word “coconut” you have milk and cream. (And there is coconut water – but that is not part of our soup.) So our decisions are based upon the consistency (thin or thick) that we require for the Chicken Curry Soup. When opening a can of coconut cream, the cream tends to settle at the top of the can. Be sure to mix the cream into the liquid. Personally I find Coconut Milk is the best for garnishing a bowl since the cream has a clear, glaze appearance.
Whether you purchase sweetened or unsweetened is a personal preference on sugar content. Personally the sweetened version is nice to offset the heat. We top the soup with coconut milk. Lastly it is important to stir in coconut milk just before serving as it brings together the flavors.
Thick Broth or Thin?
Do you prefer a thicker or a thin broth? For a thicker broth, reduce the amount of chicken broth. Another option is to puree the cashews and save a few for garnish. Both options are delicious. My preference is to roughly chop the cashews adding to the soup and saving a few for the garnish. The cashews tends to disappear by grinding them. Also I found the soup becomes thicker over night. Also you can serve a thicker soup over rice.
Heat Level of Chicken Curry Soup
For the chicken marinade I use chili powder. Another option is to use a food processor to make a paste using a hot chili pepper. For less heat deseed the hot chili pepper. As a disclaimer I have not tried this method but if you try a chili pepper let me know how it comes out!
The spices are really approximate. If you are unsure of their flavor and heat, use them sparingly and perform a taste test. This soup should have some heat to it. Ideally the heat comes on after the taste test. Fresh ginger is preferred over ginger powder. It takes a few minutes to grate it into a paste but it is worth the time. If that is too much work, consider purchasing ginger paste.
Chicken Curry Soup Spices
Our spices include: Curry Powder, Chili Powder, Cloves, Cumin, Turmeric, and Ground Cardamom. When measuring the spices take time to enjoy their fragrant aroma! My recipe calls for generous measurements for some of the spices. You can always reduce the measurements with taking taste tests to determine if more spices is necessary. Now lets talk about ginger with its zesty, sweet, and warm flavor profile! As with the other spices a generous amount of freshly grated ginger is used. (Keep in mind that fresh ginger to ground ginger is a 6 to 1 ratio.) As a tip try to buy a piece of fresh ginger that has large sections making it easier to grate. Peel the ginger with either a spoon or a knife. Typically I find it easier to peel with a knife. Grating is simple using your cheese grater – but this is where having larger chunks makes it easier! If that sounds like too much then purchase ginger paste.
How to Make Chicken Curry Soup
Planning ahead is necessary when making Chicken Curry Soup. We start with making a marinade with chili powder, fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice and salt. It should be a thick paste. Wash and cube your chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in a ziplock bag and add the marinade covering the chicken. Place in refrigerator for at least 3-hours.
When we are ready to make our soup we cook the marinade chicken In a frying pan. Deglaze pan with chicken stock to get all the wonderful marinade that remains baked on the pan. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil, add the onions and cook until soft. Next we add the vegetables of carrots and celery and simmer for several minutes. Now we add all the wonderful spices that kicks this soup up another notch! Cook for a few minutes to release their flavors. Add the chicken broth bringing to a boil. Add cooked chicken and nuts simmering for 20-minutes. Now we add the apples and red bell peppers cooking for 10-minutes. (I use to add the red pepper earlier but given it is a soft vegetable it needs less cooking time.) Lastly add nutmeg, cilantro and coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes. Serve with a tablespoon of coconut cream or coconut milk, cilantro, and any other toppings such as nuts.
Make Ahead Preparation
There are many options to prepare Chicken Curry Soup ahead of time. A day earlier cook the marinade chicken and chop the vegetables. When making the soup stop at the last step of adding the coconut milk, nutmeg and cilantro. when ready to serve the soup, reheat and then add the final ingredients!
Chicken Curry Soup
- Chopping board and knife for the chicken
- Chopping board and knife for the vegetables and nuts
- Ziplock bag or other non-reactive container with lid to marinade the chicken
- Frying pan – nonstick if possible
- Large soup pan (5.5 qt)
- 3 large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 2 1/2 cups cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsp Chili Powder
- 3 to 4 tbsp Ginger freshly grated, or ginger paste
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice fresh or bottled
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil for baking
- 1 ½ cups Sweet Onion chopped
- 1 ½ cups Carrots chopped
- 1 cup Celery chopped
- 1 tbsp Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp Chili Powder
- ¼ tsp Cloves
- ½ tsp Cumin
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Ground Cardamom
- ¼ tsp Nutmeg
- 3 cups Chicken Broth low sodium
- ¾ cup Coconut Milk
- ¾ cup Cashews Raw
- ½ cup Pistachios No Salt
- ½ cup Cilantro chopped
- 1 ½ cup Red Bell Pepper chopped
- 2 cups Tart Apples peeled, core, and chopped
- Chopped cashews
- Coconut Cream or Coconut Milk
- Shredded carrots
- Rinse, dry and and cube your chicken into bite size pieces.
- Mix together the marinade ingredients. It should be a thick paste.
- Place chicken in a Ziploc bag or other non-reactive container with lid. Add the marinade coating the chicken.
- Place in refrigerator for at least 3-hours.
- Heat a frying pan and cook the chicken. (I use a non-stick pan without adding olive oil. If you believe the chicken will stick to the pan, then heat pan with olive oil.) Throw away the Ziploc bag.
- Deglaze pan with chicken stock to get all the wonderful marinade that remains baked on the pan. Set aside for later.
- Heat the Olive Oil in your soup pan and add onions – cook until soft.
- Then add the remaining soup ingredients and cook on medium low for a few minutes.
- Add the spices except for the nutmeg. Cook for one minute to release their flavors.
- Add chicken broth and the reserved deglaze broth from cooking the chicken. Bring to a boil.
- Add cooked chicken, nuts, and loosely cover simmering for 20-minutes. (See notes for options on nuts.)
- Add apples and chopped red peppers simmering until desired tenderness for the apples.
- Mix in coconut milk, nutmeg and cilantro simmering for a few minutes.
- Serve with coconut milk, cilantro, and any other toppings such as nuts.
- You can grate the ginger with your cheese grater or purchase ginger paste.
- If you cannot find salt free pistachios then consider reducing any added salt to the soup.
- You can puree the cashews in a food processor and add to the soup.
- Another option is to add chopped nuts directly to the soup.
- It is helpful to soften the nuts by bringing a small kettle of water to boil. Add the nuts and boil for a while to soften them.
- Lastly, you could use both options with pureeing majority of the nuts with adding the remaining nuts chopped.