BEET AND FENNEL SOUP (for six)
5 medium beets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
3 fennel bulbs, sliced thin, reserving leaves for garnish
¼ cup water
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
optional: ¼ cup Gilka (German caraway seed liqueur)
pumpernickel and rye breadsticks to accompany
- Preheat oven to 400*.
- Trim beets, leaving 1 inch of stems attached, and scrub them well. Wrap beets tightly in foil and roast them in the middle of the oven until tender, about 1-1/2 hours. Unwrap beets carefully (hot steam will escape) and let them stand until cool enough to handle. Peel beets. Cut half of one beet into 1 inch long matchsticks for garnish and chop the remaining beets.
- In your stockpot, heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook onions and fennel seeds, stirring, until softened, about 15 minutes. Add sliced fennel and water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until fennel is very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped beets and stock and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
- In a blender puree the soup in batches, transferring it as pureed into another saucepan. Soup may be prepared up to this point 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
- Reheat soup until hot, thinning with water if necessary. Stir in the orange juice, liqueur if using, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish soup with beet matchsticks and fennel leaves and serve it with the toasts.
from Gourmet Magazine, October, 1994