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Balinese Vegetable Soup

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Serves: 8
225g / 8 oz green beans
1.2 litres / 2 pints lightly salted water
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
2 macadamia nuts or 4 almonds, finely chopped
1cm / 1/2 in cube shrimp paste (blachan)
10-15ml / 2-3 tsp coriander seeds, dry fried
30ml / 2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely sliced
400ml / 14 fl oz can coconut milk
2 bay leaves
225g / 8 oz beansprouts
8 thin lemon wedges
30ml / 2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and ground black pepper

Top and tail the beans, then cut them into small pieces. Bring the lightly salted water to the boil, add the beans to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking waters. Set the beans aside.

Finely grind the chopped garlic, macadamia nuts or almonds, shrimp paste (blachand and the coriander seeds to a paste using a pestle and mortar or in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a wok, and fry the onion until transparent. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the nut paste to the wok and fry it for 2 minutes without allowing it to brown.

Pour in the reserved vegetable water. Spoon off 45-60ml / 3-4 tbsp of the cream from the top of the coconut milk and set it aside. Add the remaining coconut milk to the wok, bring to the boil and add the bay leaves. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.

Just before serving, reserve a few beans, fried onions and beansprouts to garnish and stir the rest into the soup. Add the lemon wedges, reserved coconut cream, lemon juice and seasoning, stir well. Pour into individual soup bowls and serve, garnished with the reserved beans, onion and beansprouts.

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