Ingredients: Serves 6. Prep time: 40 minutes active; 90 minutes total.
2 pounds medium beets, washed, unpeeled and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 cups diced fennel bulb
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup orange juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for about 1 hour or until tender. Allow beets to cool, then peel and cut into small chunks. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, fennel and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes until soft. Add the chopped beets and the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange juice and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Using a stick blender or carefully, in batches, in a regular blender, blend the soup until smooth. Taste the soup and adjust for salt and black pepper if needed.
Serve this rustic, French-inspired soup “a la vieille Russie” (hot with a swirl of sour cream or yogurt), paired with simple oven-roasted chicken, duck or potatoes. A sprinkle of savory fresh herbs, like dill, thyme or chives, adds even more character.
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