Baby Spinach and Lime Soup

 Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a native of Central and Southwest Asia. In the early 1600s, it was brought to America, where its nutritional value and versatility have made it a valuable market crop ever since.

Spinach seeds can be planted in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Amend soil with compost before planting. Directly sow seeds 1-1/2" deep and 2" apart in rows 12 to 18" apart. Spinach may also be sowed in mid to late summer for fall crops. Germination takes 7 to 21 days, depending on the variety.

Thin young plants to 4 –6" apart. Thinnings can be used in salads. Cultivate soil to reduce weeds and provide aeration. Once true leaves appear, feed biweekly with high-nitrogen organic fertilizer. Maintain uniform soil moisture all season. Harvest mature plants before flowering, in 40 – 50 days. A cool-weather crop, spinach is relatively trouble-free.

Baby Spinach and Lime Soup

3 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin seed (cracked)

1 fresh jalapeno (chopped)
12 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
2 fresh-squeezed limes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss tortilla strips and oil in large bowl to coat. Transfer strips to baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes

Bring vegetable broth, cumin and jalapeno to simmer in heavy stock pot over medium heat. Add fresh spinach and cook until spinach is wilted but still bright green.

Add cilantro and squeeze in fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowl, top with tortilla strips and serve. Makes 4 servings.