Recipe of the Week: Fennel-Beet Borscht

We tend to overindulge during the winter holidays. Keep up your energy and spare yourself holiday pounds by opting for healthy home-cooked meals when possible, like this light, but filling soup
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Warm up with a sweet, savory bowl of borscht

Recipe of the Week is contributed by Seattle-based award-winning cookbook author, urban farmer and Seattle magazine contributor Amy Pennington.

Party, party, party, but a girl's got to eat!

We tend to overindulge during the winter holidays. There are friends to see, parties to attend and cookies to eat, but it’s important not to let your health and nutrition deteriorate too steeply. Keep up your energy and spare yourself holiday pounds by opting for healthy home-cooked meals when possible, like this light, but filling soup.

Borscht is a traditional eastern European soup, served hot or cold, and varies greatly in its preparation. Some preparations are long-cooked stews flecked with tender beef that take all day to prepare, while others rely simply on shaved beets and broth. For this hot, autumnal version I paired anise-scented fennel bulb with red beets and a small pinch of cayenne. A dollop of yogurt or sour cream is traditional and delicious—and will turn the soup from red-gem toned to fuchsia in seconds. You can add diced carrots or celery to the soup as well. Be sure to cut your veg the same size, so they all cook at the same rate.

A favorite in the "Beet" chapter of my book, Fresh Pantry, this soup does well as a leftover, so feel free to make a big batch for mid-week work lunches, too!

Fennel–Beet Borscht
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound red beets, peeled and cut into small, even dice (about 4 cups)
½ pound fennel bulb, cut into small, even dice (about 2 cups)
½ cup diced onion
2 ½ cups homemade stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable) 
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the beets, fennel bulb, onions, stock, and salt. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all ingredients are just cooked through and still toothsome. Remove from heat and taste for salt, adding if need be. Add cayenne to the broth and stir to combine well. Serve immediately, with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, if desired.

PANTRY NOTE: Borscht holds in the fridge, covered, for up to five days. Reheat or serve cold.

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