Coconut and runner bean soupthis was inspired by Sarah Britton’s…

Coconut and runner bean soup

this was inspired by Sarah Britton’s Thai-style coconut soup (which doesn’t use runner beans)

in a large saucepan combine a carton of coconut milk, a stalk or two of lemongrass (remove the outer leaves, trim and bash the bulb to release the flavour), finely chopped shallots, finely sliced red chilli, around 10 kaffir lime leaves (torn or shredded), two finely sliced garlic cloves, and a big pinch of sugar (coconut or demerara) to taste.  If you find coconut milk sweet enough (I do) then leave this out.  Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for around15 minutes.

Take a handful of runner beans and string and slice into long strips.  You could also add some courgette or red pepper – also cut into strips or into rounds and cook at the same time as the beans.

For a smooth broth you can strain the solids from the soup and return the liquid to the pan, or just remove the lemongrass stalks if you prefer to keep the shallot and lime leaves (I do!).  Add the juice of a small lime and a little water – the soup should be creamy but not too thick.  Add the beans and simmer for a minute or two until the beans have softened.  Pour into deep bowls and serve with a handful of coriander leaves if you have any to hand and extra lime wedges.