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Refreshing Summer Soups: Roasted Beet and Fennel

Soup of pureed red beets in a ceramic plate
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It’s summer—at least it feels like it after a week of 88 to 90 degree weather here in Raleigh, North Carolina—so bring on the cool specialties like this Roasted Beet and Fennel Soup. Cool soups are a perfect way to refresh yourself when you’re over-heated.

Did you notice that I said “cool” rather than “chilled”? Let’s zoom in on that thought.

According to Ayurveda it’s best to eat warm food or food that is room temperature. Here’s why: The temperature in the average human stomach is 110 degrees. If you drink iced cold drinks or soup right out of the fridge, it’s like throwing cold water on a fire—your digestive fire, called agni in the language of Ayurveda. This fire is the power behind your ability to digest food and assimilate life experiences. If you want to sustain optimal health or recover from health problems, it’s always wise to protect your agni. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy chilled soup recipes. Simply serve them at room temperature, or if you’ve refrigerated a dish, take it out a couple of hours early so that it can warm up to room temp. On a very hot day, I’ll enjoy something that’s a little cool to the tongue, to be sure, but even in 100+ degrees I feel better if I avoid very cold foods and drinks. So find what works best for you.

Enjoy this roasted beet and fennel soup recipe at room temperature, chilled, or warm! It’s easy to make on a day when you’re home and have time to roast beets and let them cool, which will take 90 minutes or more.

If you’re new to my blog, you might also enjoy another summer favorite: Avocado and Cucumber Soup.

Enjoy your refreshing summer soup!

ROASTED BEET & FENNEL SOUP

 

Preparation Time: 30 minutes active; about 2 hours start to finish
Makes 5 cups

 

My Russian grandmothers made borschtbeet soupthough I wouldn’t get near it as a child! Fortunately, I fell in love with beets as an adult and created my own updated version of this traditional favorite. I like to make a double batch of this recipe because the soup is still good the next day. If you double the recipe, one large fennel bulb and the same amount of oil will suffice.

 

2 large beets
1 small fennel bulb
1½ tablespoons olive or coconut oil
1 small to medium leek bulb, sliced
½ cup Easy Vegetarian Soup Stock
2 cups purified water
1 to 2 large mint leaves
1 handful of cilantro, leaves and stems
¾ to 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

 

Cook’s Tip:  I don’t recommend boxed or canned stocks, but if you use one, I recommend cutting the amount of prepared stock by half. I just use more water when I’m out of my own mildly flavored stock.

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400˚F. Wash beets and wrap each one in unbleached parchment paper; then wrap the parchment with aluminum foil. Place the wrapped beets on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a fork or paring knife. Remove from the oven, unwrap, and let the beets cool for 15 minutes or longer before rubbing off the skins.

 

2. Cut the stalks and greens off the fennel bulb. (You can add them to the stock or save for another dish.) Cut the bulb in half, and brush it with a little oil. Place the pieces on the baking sheet.  Turn them in 15 to 20 minutes to brown on the other side. Roast the second side for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the fennel is starting to become tender. Remove from the oven and let cool while the beets continue to roast.

 

3. When ready to assemble the soup, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small sauté pan on medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until they turn uniformly golden. Remove from heat.

 

4. When the beets have cooled, rub the skins off and cut them into chunks. Cut the cooled fennel into smaller chunks.

 

5. Combine all of the ingredients in a Vitamix or blender and purée, about 20 seconds if you use a Vitamix. Taste and adjust herbs, salt, and lime to taste.  Garnish with cilantro, mint, or a touch of fennel fronds.

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