During college, I spent a summer traveling + studying in Southeast Asia. Aside from the profound + life-changing experience of immersing myself in new cultures and conducting psychological research on a population recovering from a recent genocide (v casual stuff), it truly shaped who I am as a chef today. I am forever inspired by the culinary staples and techniques of these countries (namely Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos) - heavy on medicinal spices, ripe with fresh produce, and usually (hopefully) incorporating coconut in some way.
I actually spent that summer as an accidental vegan (with the exception of fresh local eggs in the am, because #swoon), completely eliminating dairy and meat from my diet. And it was so easy. The way simple ingredients like vegetables, rice, and a few spices were prepared was so full of flavor and life, it made going plant-based deeply satisfying and enjoyable.
This recipe is a nod to all that I learned, experienced, and tasted that summer. It's entirely plant-based, surprisingly simple to prepare, and a total crowd pleaser, making it a fabulous quick + wholesome weeknight dinner. It's sweet, spicy, sour, creamy, and undeniably delicious. If you feel like you need to up the protein, feel free to add in cooked shrimp or shredded chicken.
VEGAN THAI-STYLE COCONUT SOUP
Makes about 4 servings