Cooking with Johnnie Collins: The Alkalizing Soup

“The soup is very simple – effectively using a few fresh green ingredients to give a light, delicious summer meal that is both cleansing and alkalising and can be made in 30 mins. It is packed with anti oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre that are found in abundance in the main ingredients – fennel and spinach. I add what seems like a lot of lemon juice and peel but combined with the fennel gives the soup a it’s unique flavour and also has an alkalising effect that is very important for our bodies. We need a natural ph balance to function and this can be difficult to achieve in our current processed world of chemicals and fumes so it is very important to get those valuable foods into our diet as much as possible. It will aid digestion, benefit the skin, the immune system and help prevent a number of health issues prevalent today.

The idea to this receipe comes from a tradition with my Mum. She would always say not to cook on a Sunday night after a social weekend and a lot of time spent in the kitchen. So we worked with what was left in the kitchen or in the herb garden in front of our countryside. The soup is a pure memory of the soups she used to make on these occasions – a few veg, a good stock, fresh herbs, and a bit of spice cooked in one pan and whizzed at the last minute to produce a veg broth with a bit of texture. I add a few dressed spinach leaves on the top to give additional freshness and texture.

The aim to create an alkalising, cleansing soup efefctively comes from my interests in nutrition. In recent years my food has begun to really focus on the natural, whole food side that I was exposed to whilst growing up but have begun to look into more. A close friend of mine was born with a specific illness that meant she needed to live a healthy lifestyle. She introduced me years ago to some of the ingredients that we have begun to see becoming very popular recently – chia seeds, flax seeds, activated nuts – but would often eat these in a way that looked and tasted horrible. I don’t believe ‘healthy’ food should give you a feeling of abstinence, a feeling that you are missing out on something – it is food as it meant to be – whole, delicious and good food you.”

Green, alkalising, cleansing, soup

350ml Veg stock

6 red onions

3 cloves garlic

2 fennel bulbs (add fronds and tops to veg stock)

100g fennel seeds

large bunch of kale / cavalo nero / cima di rapa

large bunch of spinach roughly chopped with a handful held back

4 lemons – zest and juice

Olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Roughly chop onions, garlic and fennel and sweat down in olive oil on a low to medium heat for 25 mins or until translucent. For this recipe the onions should be cooked slowly to allow natural sweetness to come out. Add the onion first, garlic after 10 mins or so and finally the fennel.

Add crushed fennel seeds, lemon zest and juice and continue to sweat for a further 10 mins. Retain some lemon juice for later. You can toast the fennel seeds first and crush them in a pestle and mortar to allow natural oils and flavour to release.

Add kale (or green of choice) and veg stock and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow flavours to mingle.

Remove from the heat and add roughly chopped spinach and leave to cool.

Blitz with a hand blender or in a food processor / vitamix. Season to taste with salt and pepper

To serve, put soup back on the heat, pour into individual bowls and add shredded spinach that has been dressed in a little oil and lemon juice. Add a slice of my bread (previous recipe here) for a yummy lunch. The soup will keep for a few days in the fridge although best served immediately as it will retain a brighter green colour.

Alkalizing Soup
© Johnnie Collins
Johnnie Collins

Growing up in the English countryside, Johnnie Collins learnt the value of using seasonal, home grown or locally sourced produce from his mother. He begun cooking and entertaining for his friends and has since created, managed and cooked at numerous pop-ups, supper clubs and restaurants in London and beyond. He studied at the College of Naturopathic Nutrition and moved to Berlin in October 2014 to cook in The Store Kitchen.