Boost Your Heart Health With Leek and Pea Soup

Homemade soups can be nutritional powerhouses and satisfying meals that can fill the stomach with fewer calories than other lunch or dinner options. This leek and sweet pea soup can be enjoyed year-round either hot or cold. When it's cold outside, frozen peas work wonderfully, and in early summer when fresh peas appear at the farmer's market, they're great to use here.

Green peas provide protein and carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron, potassium, vitamin A, folate and calcium. Leeks, which come from the same family as onions and garlic, contain little-known cardiovascular benefits: polyphenols, antioxidants that protect blood vessels and cells from oxidative damage, and kaempferol, a flavonoid that reportedly protects blood vessel linings from damage.

More: The Nutritional Benefits of Leeks

This leek and pea soup can sit in the refrigerator for two hours before serving if you want a chilled soup, or serve it hot on a chilly day. Whatever temperature you prefer, this verdant, thick soup is fantastic when scooped up with warm whole-wheat toasts.

Leek and Pea Soup

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, inside leaves rinsed thoroughly to remove sand, and chopped

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, if desired

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, add leeks and cook for about three minutes. Add peas and cook for two minutes. Remove from heat and drain leeks and peas in a colander with very small holes. Add leeks and peas and all other ingredients to a blender and, with the top on tightly and a kitchen towel placed between your hand and the top of the blender, push down lightly on the top of the blender (to avoid the hot contents from exploding out) and whizz until smooth. Serve warm with crostini on the side, or pour into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature on the counter. Cover with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator for two hours before serving.

More: Healthy Tomato Soup

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