In Romania, there is a whole category of dishes called ciorbă, and we serve them between the starter and the main course. These clear soups have a tangy, sour element added to them, whether vinegar, unripe summer fruits or even brine from pickles or sauerkraut. If this sour ingredient is from fermented wheat bran, the soup is called borș. These soups follow the seasons, and they can be made with any vegetables and beans, with or without meat. There are infinite variations: pork with tarragon, meatballs with lovage, lettuce with sliced omelette, sauerkraut with paprika, vegetable medley, potatoes and caraway, sorrel and even nettles.

Here we have a refreshing summer version with fasole verde, runner beans. It serves 4 people.


2 medium size brown onions, sliced

1 medium size carrot, peeled and grated

1L vegetable stock

500g runner beans, cut into 2cm pieces

75g sour cream

2 small garlic cloves, grated

20g chopped dill, fennel or parsley



Heat a thin layer of sunflower oil on the base of a soup or casserole dish. Add the onions and carrot, a generous pinch of salt, and cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes until they start to caramelise. Pour the stock in and bring to the boil, then add the runner beans. Cook on medium heat for 8 minutes, until the beans are soft but still a little crunchy. Turn the heat off. In a bowl, mix the sour cream with the garlic. Pour over a couple of spoonfuls of the soup and combine well, then repeat 2 more times. This will bring the sour cream closer to the temperature of the soup, and it won’t split. Now pour the sour cream mixture into the soup and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning (I always feel t needs more salt at this stage) Add the herbs and serve immediately.