Vegan Thai coconut soup for a warm appetizer on Meatless Monday

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Need an appetizer to impress some guests -- or just to tickle your own tastebuds? This vegan Thai-style coconut soup (adapted from a recipe in Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook) is smooth, complex and satisfying. You can buy mung bean sprouts at the store, or sprout them yourself -- but then you'll need at least an extra 24 hours of prep time.

See also: - Vegan pad Thai for a delectable dinner on Meatless Monday - Spinach-and-chickpea coconut curry for a quick, easy dinner on Meatless Monday - Thai-style green curry for dinner on Meatless Monday

You will need: 1/4 cup whole mung beans 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/4 teaspoon salt 4-6 cups homemade vegetable broth (you can use boxed or canned in a pinch) 1 piece fresh ginger 2 stalks dried lemongrass 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste 3 tablespoons Shoyu soy sauce Juice of 2 limes 1 14-ounce can lite coconut milk (Thai Kitchen is our preferred brand) 3 shallots 1 cup chopped tomatoes 1 head baby bok choy 1 carrot 1/4 cup chopped basil (preferably Thai basil) 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes 1. Soak the mung beans overnight in more than enough water to cover them. Drain the beans after they've been soaked. Dampen a clean cloth towel and line a large bowl with it. Wrap the towel around the beans. Place the bowl in a cool, dark place. Check the cloth every six hours and dampen it again. The beans should start to sprout after about twelve hours; you can prepare them right then or wait and continue to grow them. If you do continue to grow them, rinse the growing sprouts every twelve hours and return to the towel. Rinse the sprouts thoroughly one more time before you prepare to cook them. 2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the sprouts, turmeric and salt, and cook for about ten minutes, or until the sprouts are tender. Drain the sprouts and set aside. 3. Peel the ginger and slice four thin slices off of it. 4. Place the broth in a large pot and add the lemongrass and ginger slices. Bring to a boil. 5. Squeeze the juice of the two limes into a small dish. Add the lime juice, curry paste and soy sauce to the broth as it's heating. Open the can of coconut milk (shake well before you do) and add it, stirring. While you're waiting for the broth to boil, continue prepping the other ingredients. 6. Rinse and chop the bok choy. 7. Peel and slice the shallots (and peel and grate the carrot). 8. Chop the tomatoes. When the soup is boiling, it's time to add the other vegetables. 9. Stir in the vegetables. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender. 10. Wash the basil leaves, arrange on top of one another and fold in half. Slice into strips. After 25 minutes or so have passed, fish the lemongrass and ginger out of the broth. Add the basil. Throw in the pepper and the sprouts. Stir everything together and serve.

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