Mandi always gets this soup at the Thai place we go to on the island. We wanted to re create it at home and we found out it is pretty easy! I have since made it a few times and have decided that you can make it a variety of ways and it will turn out good no matter which way you choose. Normally I am against substitutions and only do them if I have to, but as I will explain later, subs are ok in this meal. We like this soup deadly spicy, but don't be scared of all those chiles, the coconut milk really kills the heat so you need to add much more than you think.
More of those lime leaves we got from my friend at the market. That's dried galangal on the left.
Whether you are using homemade, or store bought stock, you need to put these ingredients in the stock to simmer for a half hour at least.
More sliced chiles for garnish.
This next step is totally optional! We like to do it because it adds a nice flavor and "speckles" the soup, but if you are in a hurry or don't have these ingredients, don't bother!
Just make a loose paste with those ingredients and fry in the bottom of the pan for 2 minutes.
Next strain your flavored stock into the pot. Follow this with equal parts coconut milk. Season this with some fish sauce.
Some other ingredients. Whatever veg you have around is fine, but mushrooms are pretty much a staple of this soup in restaurants. We also like to use bean thread noodles.
See what I meant by "speckled?" Let this simmer together for 15 minutes so the flavors combine. Watch it though, if it gets too hot, it will boil over the way milk does.
We like to only cook the veg for about 7 minutes in the soup. This keeps them mostly raw and crunchy. Taste for seasonings and add some more fish sauce and salt if necessary.
Serve with the sliced chiles, some cilantro, and a lime wedge.
In chicken or veg stock, simmer dried galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, and chiles for half hour. OPTIONALLY make a loose paste of cilantro stems, lime zest, chile, garlic, and ginger. You could also instead put any of these items into the stock to impart more flavor that way. Fry paste for 3 minutes in soup pot. Strain stock into pot. Add equal parts coconut milk. Season with fish sauce. Simmer 15 minutes watching that it doesn't boil. Add chopped veg.(we like cauliflower, snap peas, and mushrooms). Season more if necessary. Garnish with bean thread noodles, sliced chiles, cilantro, and a lime wedge.