It's pretty hard not to love coconut soup with Thai flavours. Every time I make it I think, "Why don't I make this more?" The great thing about it is you can put almost any vegetable in it and it works. Its a delicious, homey, healthy bowl of yumminess and I highly recommend making it, especially on a chilly day.
If you don't have access to kaffir lime leaves or lemon grass your soup will be missing a little something but you could use lime and lemon peel in large slices. If you make it to an Asian grocery store and are able to buy some fresh kaffir lime leaves, take them all off the branches and put them in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They can be used for ages. If you can only get dry ones just keep them in a sealed container. When cooking with dried ones you may have to use a bit extra, they are not as strong as the fresh ones. You can also buy lemongrass in tubes at most grocery stores now and it is a good alternative to the fresh stuff. Add some of this to your soup (1 tbsp or so) when you add the veggies.
1 can of coconut milk (not light)
2 cups of broth (chicken or veggie)
3 green onions chopped
about 3 cups of cooked vermicelli noodles (just put into boiling water, turn off heat and let noodles sit for about 5 min, drain and rinse with cool water, set aside)
2 cups of julienned veggies (your choice of asparagus, peppers, carrots, zuchinni, whatever you have)
a few chunks (thumb sized) of ginger (or galangal if you have it)
2 stalks of lemon grass, peeled, hit with the back of your blade then chopped into pieces
2-3 kaffir lime leaves (you could use slices of lime peel)
1-2 chilies diced
handful of torn basil
couple of handfuls of cilantro
1 1/2 of shredded cooked chicken(could also use raw chicken cut into bite size pieces) or shrimp
2-3 shallots sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
Put broth in sauce pan with lemon grass, kaffir leaves, and ginger chunks (leave one aside for later). Let simmer on a very low heat for 15 min. Remove the leaves, ginger and lemongrass. Add the chicken (not shrimp), coconut milk, shallot, julienned veggies, chilli and grate with a microplane the last thumb of ginger into the soup. Turn the heat up and simmer another 10 min. Add shrimp(if using) and fish sauce and simmer another few min, make sure shrimp are cooked. Add green onions and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust. Place vermicelli noodles in bowls (should be enough for 3 or 4) and ladle soup into bowls. Top with cilantro and basil and serve with wedges of lime.
*You can also add grape tomatoes, mushrooms (oyster are really good), or tofu.