Well Lite + xserver + a window manager. But absolutely you can easily build a slimmed down version.
The key is to ensure you use the right switches (--no-install-recommends) for your apt commands, when you are installing, to avoid bringing in the kitchen sink. For example to install xserver you would use the command:
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sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xserver-xorg
This is a decent guide to get the idea: