Servings: Serves 8–10
- 3/4 pound assorted baby beets , ends trimmed
- 8 sprigs fresh marjoram , plus 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves
- Juice of 4 oranges , plus zest of 1 orange
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 1 small fennel bulb , trimmed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds , toasted and crushed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds , toasted and crushed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds , toasted and crushed
- 3 pounds beets , peeled and cut into 1" cubes
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375°. Place baby beets, 3 marjoram sprigs, juice of one orange and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a baking dish. Cover; roast until beets can be pierced easily with a knife, about 40 minutes. When cool, remove skins and cut beets in half. In a bowl, toss baby beets, pinches of salt and pepper, marjoram leaves, orange zest and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cover; set aside.
Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, chopped fennel, garlic, coriander, caraway, fennel seeds and remaining marjoram sprigs. Sauté until vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add cubed beets, pinches of salt and pepper and remaining orange juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beets are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and cool.
In a blender, puree soup in small batches until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.
To serve, adjust seasoning of soup and ladle into cups. Garnish each with baby beets and a drizzle of buttermilk. Serve additional buttermilk on the side.