Before I was wise enough to submit to minor surgery, my teeth would occasionally become infected. It was then impossible to eat anything other than soup- and being young, foolish, and overly concerned with my figure, I ate very little of that. I should note that I have a terrible temper when I'm hungry.
Thus, C got into the habit of bringing along a take-out bucket of this soup to every date. I envision him throwing it through the door before he enters my apartment.
Anyways: earlier this month, a friend from college sent me a bag of Kaffir lime leaves. The farmer's market sells fat bundles of lemongrass for a dollar, and I occasionally fall prey to the deal. Galangal is apparently essential to the flavor, but none leapt into my path and I did not know how important it was until my soup was already made and eaten.
Mix 4 cups stock with 1 16 oz. can coconut milk and 1 tsp brown sugar. Cut one stalk lemongrass into 1 inch lengths. Make several tears in a Kaffir lime leaf, leaving the center vein intact. Thinly slice pennies off of a 1 inch section of ginger or galangal. Measure out a reasonable amount of pepper flakes or chopped fresh pepper (1/2 tsp, 1 tbs.) Put all of the above ingredients into a pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
Slice and add 2-3 cups of vegetables to the broth. I personally like cabbage and mushrooms- any sort of mushrooms- but you might like sweet potatoes, carrots, thinly sliced tofu, or onion. In the summer, you might like those wonderful vegetables I try not to think about this time of year. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
Now you must "correct the seasoning". One could use fish sauce for a pleasant glutamate flavor, or one could use Braggs- 1-2 tsp of both. The juice of one or more limes is essential, as is a quantity of coarsely chopped cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste. Eat.