"Senegalese soup” has been served at New York’s “21” Club for many years, but the origin of the soup and its name are unclear. Senegalese soup has been called “cold curried chicken soup” and contains chicken broth, curry and even tart apples. The soup is usually served cold, but can also be served hot.
Many food writers have failed to find any connection of the soup with the African country of Senegal. Senegal’s cuisine does not include curry or apples. It is most often proposed that “Senegalese” is an error for the correct word, “Singhalese” (the cuisine of Sri Lanka and parts of India). The Indian soup mulligatawny does contain both curry and apples; American cookbooks have sometimes called mulligatawny simply “East Indian soup.” “Senegalese soup” is cited in print from the 1950s, but the early citations do not provide an explanation for the name.
Senegal (French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa. Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. Its size is almost 197,000 km² with an estimated population of nearly 11,700,000. The Gambia lies almost entirely within Senegal, surrounded by it on the north, east and south; from its western coast, Gambia’s territory follows the Gambia River more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) inland. Dakar is the capital city of Senegal, located on the Cape Verde Peninsula on the country’s Atlantic coast.
Cuisine of Senegal
The cuisine of Senegal is similar to other cuisines found in West Africa, but at the same time has its own unique dishes. Distinguishing influences on Senegalese fare include the nations many ethnic groups, the largest being the Wolof; Islam, which first penetrated the region in the 11th century; and various European cultures, especially the French, who held the country as a colony until 1960. Immigrants have brought Senegalese restaurants to many world cities, where its popularity has been growing.
Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is an important staple. Chicken, lamb, and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. Peanuts, the primary crop, as well as couscous, white rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables, are also incorporated into many recipes. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous or simply eaten with bread.
Sinhala is the Sanskrit word for the island of Sri Lanka. Sinhala or Sinhalese can refer to:
. Sinhala people, the majority ethnic group on Sri Lanka
. Sinhala language, the language spoken by the Sinhalese people
. Sinhala alphabet the alphabet and script used for the Sinhalese language
. Sinhala Kingdom the legendary kingdom on Sri Lanka in the Mahabharata.
Cold Senegalese Soup, grilled chicken and Granny Smith apples
Traditional Senegalese Soup ‘21’ Club
Gourmet | November 1995
yield: Makes about 10 cups
This rich curried soup has been served at ‘21’ for years. Our restaurant is one of the few places in this country where you can still find it. At ‘21’ the classic garnish is diced poached chicken; this version substitutes chutney.
3 tart apples; such as Granny Smith
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 carrots chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
8 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon canned tomato purée
1/2 cup heavy cream
Garnish: bottled mango chutney
Peel and core apples and chop. In a heavy kettle heat butter over moderate heat until foam subsides and cook apples, carrots, onion, raisins, and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add flour and cook stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth and tomato purée and simmer, covered, 1 hour and 20 minutes. Stir in cream and salt to taste and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
Cool soup and in a food processor or blender purée in batches until smooth. Strain soup through a sieve into a large bowl and chill until cold, 2 to 3 hours.
Garnish each serving with about 1/2 teaspoon chutney.
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons curry powder
3 eggs yolk beaten
2 cups cream
1 cup chicken breasts minced cooked
Salt and white pepper
6 tablespoons apples chopped
Simmer broth and curry powder together for 15 minutes. Beat 2 to 3 tablespoons hot broth into beaten yolks. Stir in cream, then whisk mixture into broth, stirring constantly over low heat until slightly thickened. Do not boil. Stir in chicken; taste for salt and pepper. Cool, then chill. Serve garnished with chopped apple and toasted coconut.
Mrs. Henry J. Chase’s Cook Book
EAST INDIAN SOUP.
Put a rounding tablespoonful of butter in a saucepan; add a good sized onion sliced, and cook slowly, without browning the butter. Add a large, sour apple, pared, cored and sliced, a teaspoonful of thyme, a teaspoonful of curry powder, a spring of parsley, a level teaspoonful of salt and a tablespoonful of lemon juice. Stir, add a quart of good chicken stock and two tablespoonfuls of rice. Cover and simmer gently for fiftenn minutes. Send to table without straining.
The Pure Food Cook Book
Edited by Mildred Maddocks
New York, NY: Hearst’s International Library Co.
1915 (Copyright 1914)
East Indian Soup
Having had on the previous day a curry of veal with rice border, and finding it difficult to serve any which may remain, the housekeeper will find this a very good soup to use up the meat and rice. Cover that which remains with cold water, adding one peeled and sliced sour apple. Simmer slowly for an hour, rub through a sieve, season more if necessary, with salt and pepper, reheat, and add, at serving, one cupful of hot milk or cream, and one tablespoonful of finely chopped parsley, Tiny cubes of the meat may be reserved, before rubbing through the sieve, and added with the cream.
Google News Archive
8 February 1951, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “Gourmet Cook Books Offer Recipe Interest” by Veronica Volpe, pg. 11, col. 3:
...Senegalese Soup (from New York’s famed 21 Club)...
(The Perfect Hostess Cook Book by Mildred O. Knopf—ed.)
15 August 1956, Waco (TX) News-Tribune, Duncan Hines column, pg. 13:
Creme Sengalese Soup
Delicious and Refreshing
Do you occasionally love exotic foods? If so, try this one from one of the very popular eating houses on La Cienga boulevard in Los Angeles (often called “Restaurant Row"), called Tail O’ the Cock. This restaurant continues to mount in popularity for their good food. They serve a Creme Sengalese Soup—which is a cold soup that is very delicious and refreshing. The recipe is a little complicated but will produce an excellent tasting dish to serve at this time of the year.
Here is the recipe for Creme Senegalese Soup to serve 8.
Make 1 quart of cocoanut milk, use fresh if available, if not take 8 ounces of canned cocoanut, add 3 pints of water and let simmer about 30 minutes; strain through a cloth and set aside. Make 1 quart of chicken stock; also strain.
Chop 1 small onion and 1 pippin apple; put in heavy pot with about 2 ounces of butter. Let cook 5 minutes but do not let it brown. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour, 2 level tablespoons of Madras curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and a pinch of mace. Cook for a few minutes and gradually add the cocoanut milk and chicken broth, stir until smooth. Now add 2 bay leaves, 1 sliced lime and 1 tablespoon Indian Chutney. Let cook slowly for about 30 minutes. Keep top skimmed off, strain through sieve. Let cook thoroughly; stir in 1 cup light cream, 4 tablespoons of small-diced breast of chicken. Take the large pieces of mangos out of bottled chutney, dice small and stir into mixture. Season with salt to taste, add a little lime juice.
Serve very cold in iced supreme glasses.
19 December 1957, Lima (OH) News, “Recipes On The Art Of Good Eating By Elsa Maxwell,” pg. 21, col. 4:
(Author of How To Do It, Or The Lively Art of Entertaining—ed.)
CREAM SENEGALESE SOUP
Make a curry sauce as follows: in butter, brown 2 peeled and cut-up apples, 2 cut-up stalks of celery, and 2 cut-up onions. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of curry powder, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and simmer for 5 minutes more. Add about 2 quarts of chicken or beef stock. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain and chill. When cold, add the following: 2 cups of light cream, some finely chopped chicken (about 1 cup) and salt to taste. Top with whipped cream, if desired. The soup may also be served hot. When served cold, garnish with chopped chives.
28 December 1957, New York (NY) Times, “Festive Meals Easily Made” by June Owen, pg. 22:
QUICK SENEGALESE SOUP
2 ten-ounce cans frozen potato soup
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped, sauteed onions or leeks, then put through food mill
1/4 to one-half teaspoon curry powder
Fresh chives, chopped.
Combine soup, milk, cream and onions or leeks in a saucepan and heat, stirring frequently. Season to taste with curry powder. Serve garnished with chopped chives.
Yield: Six servings.
By Lawrence Clark Powell
Published by Automobile Club of Southern California
Dinners may include Creme Senegalese (cold curried chicken soup), chicken and sweetbreads, or roast veal or ham or beef or lamb or pork,...
23 August 1962, New York (NY) Times, “Seasonal Fresh Fruits Complement Many Curry Dishes” by Craig Claiborne, pg. 32:
There is also a recipe for a cold Senegalese soup, which is a sort of curried vichyssoise.
1/4 cup butter
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup diced cooked chicken
2 quarts chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup light cream, chilled
1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and celery an cook until the vegetables are limp. Add the flour and curry powder and cook, stirring, several minutes.
2. Transfer the mixture to an electric blender. Add the apples, chicken and about one cup chicken broth. Blend until smooth.
3. In a saucepan combine the pureed mixture with the remaining broth, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Remove the bay leaf and chill. Before serving, stir in the chilled cream.
Yield: Ten servings.
15 February 1965, New York (NY) Times, “A 3-Course Meal in 30 Minutes” by Nan Ickeringill, pg. 22:
HOT SENGALESE SOUP
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup clear chicken broth (more if you wish soup thinner)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, steeped in one-quarter cup extra chicken broth
3 tablespoons cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 apple, cored, peeled and minced.
Heat chicken and celery soups and chicken broth in the top of a double boiler. Stir in curry powder and broth and, when this mixture is hot, add cream, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve very hot in hot soup bowls, garnished with minced apple.
Yield: Three servings.
Note: Chilled senegalese soup is a marvelous summer soup.
2 February 1967, Los Angeles (CA) Times, part V, pg. D17:
Mulligatawny and Creme Senegalese, soups traditionally seasoned with curry powder, take advantage of chicken and rich chicken stock for flavor and substance.
17 October 1980, New York (NY) Times, “Restaurants” by Moira Hodgson, pg. C20:
(Mortimer’s, 1057 Lexington Avenue at 75th Street—ed.)
Two soups were very good. A creamy Senegalese soup with a determined curry bite to it came garnished with a floating slice of apple and grated coconut
16 August 1981, New York (NY) Times, letters, pg. SM20:
The Curry Clue
May I offer a possible reason for Craig Claiborne’s fruitless search for Senegalese soup in a French reference work ("Cold Soups for Summer,” July 5)?
Would not the presence of curry in the soup indicate that the name Sengalese has become a popular misspelling of Singhalese, referring to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, which share with its neighbor, India, an affinity for curry in its cuisine?
Having traveled in both countries and tasted the American version of the soup, I’d place my money on Creme Singhalese as a cooling summer potion.
BETTY C. CARTWRIGHT
6 January 1982, New York (NY) Times, Q&A by Craig Claiborne, pg. C7:
For years I have believed that the name for “Senegalese soup,” a curried cream-of-chicken soup, derives from Senegal, formerly part of French West Africa. I now have a highly informative letter from Bernard J. Hassan of Jersey Citym who said he had always assumed that the soup came from Sri Lanka, as Ceylon is now known. “There are several Sanskrit names, including Lanka, for that country, and one of these is Sinhala or Singhala,” he said. “Curry is scarcely to be connected with Senegal.” People “always reach for the more familiar term when taking over foreign sounds,” he added.
By Linda Ziedrich
Illustrated by Dorothy Reinhardt
Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press
Pureed Apple Curry Soup
This soup is often called creme Senegalese or creme Senegalaise; one cookbook has it as creme Singhalese. These names mystified me—apples don’t grow in Senegal, or in Sri Lanka, where the Singhalese people live. My dictionary provided an answer: A Singh is a member of one of the warrior castes of northern India. This soup, or its inspiration, must have come from there, as its ingredients would suggest.
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium tart apples, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons flour
1 quart chicken stock
Salt, pepper, and caynenne to taste
1 pint half-and-half
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup diced cooked chicken meat
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (...)