As I've mentioned before, I've been trying to cut my dairy intake and looking for dairy-free alternatives for some of my favorite recipes, but hate recipes where you try to make something taste like something it's not (tofurkey, anyone?). In this case, I was going to use coconut milk as a substitute for the cream, so I embraced the coconut milk as a jumping off point to make a more Asian-inspired soup.
I found a recipe on another blog as a starting point. Here's the original: http://strongertogether.coop/recipes/thai-fish-soup/
Here's my version:
Bring vegetable broth to boil, then add ginger and fish sauce in a large pot (I used a 3 qt saucepan). Let that simmer for 5 minutes, then take out the ginger pieces (if you want more ginger flavor, you could grate the ginger before adding to the stock). After removing ginger pieces, add corn, mushrooms, and fish. Bring back to a simmer and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, red bell pepper and lime juice. Cover the pot, but do not stir the carrots and peppers into the soup. Let them steam on top for a couple of minutes (you still want them to have a little crunch). Then add the coconut milk and lemon basil. Stir together, then turn off heat and let sit for another 10 minutes with the pot covered.
My version basically used what I had on hand -- salmon instead of white fish, lemon basil from our garden, rather than cilantro, and extra veggies, because that's how I roll. :-)
For those who don't think you're very good at improvising, take a look at the two recipes (mine and the linked one) to see how easy it is to cook off the cuff. It's especially easy with soups, so if you need a little confidence booster, you could start there. Plus, Fall is the perfect time of year for a nice, hot bowl of soup, isn't it?