This is a vegetarian version of a Thai classic. The only unusual item here is the lemon grass, which you can find at most markets or you can substitute about 5 bags of lemon grass tea. The vegetables are flexible, so if you can’t find all of them, use just some or substitute others. The infusion can be made ahead – in fact it tastes better if made the day ahead and left to steep overnight.
1¼ cups dry white wine
4 14-ounce cans of coconut milk
12 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
6 stalks lemon grass, cut into 2-inch pieces and bruised
2 jalapeno chilies, cut in half
The Rest of the Soup:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ cups onion, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2¼ teaspoons sea salt
2 cups cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
about 10 small crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 small summer squash, thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, in short, thin strips
1/3 pound tofu, diced
1½ cups (packed) basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cayenne to top the soup (optional)
1. The infusion – Combine all the infusion ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and remove from heat, and allow to infuse for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight,
2. Strain the infusion into the soup (as indicated below). Or if you are not planning to make the soup right away, strain into a jar with a tight -fitting lid and refrigerate until use. It will keep up to a week. Let it warm to room temperature before adding it to the soup.
3. The Rest of the Soup – Heat oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and about half the salt. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent.
4. Stir in the cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, and remaining salt, and cover. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the summer squash and bell pepper and cook for just a minute or two longer.
5. Strain the infusion into the soup, and heat to not-quite-boiling. Turn the heat down, and simmer for just a minute or two. Stir in the tofu and basil, and add lemon juice to taste.
6. Serve hot topped with the spring onions and a sprinkle of cayenne if you want more heat.