Roasted Beet and Fennel Soup

By Gail Gordon Oliver

This is a delicate soup with nuanced sweetness and depth attained by roasting the beets and fennel until they've become lightly caramelized. I like to use golden beets in this recipe, but feel free to use red or Chioggia beets if desired.

Makes 4 servings

1 large bulb fennel

3 large golden beets (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt, plus more if needed

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease the paper; set aside. Trim the fennel, reserving the fronds to use as garnish. Slice the fennel into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange in a single layer at one end of the baking sheet. Lightly brush the fennel with up to one tablespoon of the oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. In a medium bowl, toss the beets with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Place evenly at the other end of the baking sheet. Bake in a 400° F oven until the beets and fennel are lightly caramelized and just tender when pierced with a fork, 35 to 45 minutes. Carefully pick over the fennel to remove any stringy portions.

In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, nutmeg, turmeric, thyme, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, and cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in the broth, roasted beets and fennel. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Purée the mixture in a blender (working in two batches) or using a handheld blender. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Garnish with fennel fronds when serving.