Originating in Central America, the kidney-shaped Scarlet Runner bean made its way into the Austrian region of Styria sometime in the 16th century and became a regional speciality, largely because the climate of the hills in Eastern Styria provide the perfect conditions for it to grow. People in Austria call this pink, violet- sprinkled bean beetle bean for the legs they sprout when the beans begin to grow roots.
The Scarlet Runner bean plant has a dual purpose, sprouting edible beans to enjoy fresh or in the dried variety, and adding ornamental value to the garden. I have grown this plant myself in the past, and loved the bright red splash of colour it gave to a vegetable or floral garden, as well as height because the plant is a climber. And as an added benefit, the vibrant red flowers attract hummingbirds, which I particularly love. Something almost ethereal about those little creatures!
Chef Steve describes these beans as being firm on the outside and creamy on the inside with a hint of smoked flavour.
Today, you can try some of these beans in one of his featured soups:
Scarlet Runner Beans with Fresh Vegetable and Swiss Chard
Thai Coconut Pork and Jasmine Rice