Welcome to the second week of Love Your Heart! To recap, we’re honoring the heart this February with a month long celebration of heart-healthy recipes.  Hopefully last week’s roundup gave you plenty of heart-health breakfast ideas.

As filling as my Strawberry Avocado Smoothie was, I’m getting hungry for lunch. This week, I’ve whipped up a simple and superbly satisfying soup. It’s an asparagus soup so smooth and creamy texture you might expect to see some heavy cream in the ingredients, but instead I’m using hearty beans and nuts to mimic to provide both nutrition and texture. It’s finished off with a squirt of lemon to brighten the flavor and remind us that Spring is just around the corner.

What makes this soup so heart-healthy?  Let’s count the ways.

Asparagus
Asparagus is rich in vitamin B, fiber, and anti-oxidants making it a likely weapon in reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cannellini Beans
Cannellini beans are similar to kidney beans but white in color. A diet high in legumes provides the heart-healthy fiber we need to reduce the risk of heart disease. But cannellini and kidney beans provided the added benefit of significant amounts of folate and magnesium. Folate helps to reduce levels of homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke, while magnesium improves blood flow by helping to relax the veins and arteries. (source)

Walnuts
Walnuts provide plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and are the #1 choice of nuts among dieticians for their lipid-lowering, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  (source)

Want more heart-healthy lunches? And how about giveaways? Please be sure to visit:

Lauren, for Fresh Salmon Caesar Salad Sandwiches,

Amy & Natalie, for a Turkey and Sprout Panini,

and Nicole, this week’s lovely hostess!

Nicole has cooked up some delicious looking Chipotle Black Bean and Shrimp Quesadillas with Edamame Guacamole, and she has some great prizes for you. Wouldn’t you like to win…

a copy of Hallie Klecker’s The Pure Kitchen?

This book is packed with flavorful recipes comprised of wholesome, heart-healthy ingredients. A perfect companion to your healthy lifestyle!

Or how about some adorable plates from Super Healthy Kids?

What better way to get the little ones thrilled about healthy eating?

Maybe you’ll end up with a gift from Tropical Traditions!

Lucky you, I love their stuff!

Let’s get back to this soup. It’s not my best work, photographically. But I guess that’s bound to happen when you try to shoot on a white background in unnatural light and you attempt to float an asparagus spear in hot soup. And I’ll be honest that I was a little nervous about the fact that I was all out of broth and had to resort to water. But let me tell you, walnuts and lemon and nutmeg do magical things when combined with asparagus, and the flavors in this soup truly shined. Whatever it lacked in appearance was more than made up for by how it tasted and it’s heart-healthy nutritional value. Two of three ain’t bad, right?

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Creamy Asparagus and Walnut Soup

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Don't be scared off by the word creamy; this soup is dairy-free and gets its luxurious mouth-feel from heart-healthy walnuts and white beans.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz asparagus, chopped into 1" pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cups water
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cooked white beans
2 teaspoons white miso
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Place walnuts in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan over low heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned. Add garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups of water and increase heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until asparagus is very tender.

Drain the walnuts and transfer to a blender or food processor along with the white beans, miso, lemon juice, and water. Blend until smooth.

When the soup is done simmering, turn off heat. Using an immersion blender (or transferring the soup in batches to a blender or food processor) blend until smooth. Stir in pureed white bean mixture and nutmeg. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 204.4
Total Fat 10.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 495.3 mg
Potassium 587.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.2 g
Dietary Fiber 6.7 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 8.5 g

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com

This post is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends.