GAPS Diet soup with a wonderful, healing, "secret", delicious ingredient!

Nourishing GAPS Diet Soup with a *Secret* Ingredient …with optional Instant Pot Directions {Paleo}

I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.

I’ve been making healing soups for many years, and yes, I am actually still slowly working on that soup cookbook that many of you ask me about! 🙂 But today I learned something new, a new way to make a beautiful, nourishing GAPS Diet soup, and it’s so special (because of that secret ingredient) that I want to share it with you now.

The Secret Ingredient

This recipe post could also be called Ode to Lemongrass Essential Oil. As you may know, I can’t eat fruit. You can perhaps imagine how much a girl misses something like the flavor of lemons when she cooks. It’s one thing to not be able to eat sensual fruits like figs. But it’s another thing entirely to not be able to use lemons, because they’re so versatile, especially in savory cooking.

Living in Oregon, there is no such thing as locally grown lemongrass. But my friend May Ly who lives in Vietnam often posts amazing and beautiful GAPS Diet soups on her IG account which regularly use ingredients like citrus and lemongrass. And then it occurred to me! Why not lemongrass essential oil?!

This changed my life. I can now enjoy the flavor of lemons! But, of course, lemongrass is more than lemons. It’s super nuanced and transporting, soo special! It gives that je ne sais quoi to your broth or to your soup. The first time I made the broth that I share below I drank two mugs of it in a row. It tastes so good. And it tastes healthy in an immune-supporting way. Like ginger, but different.

My teenage daughter even requests this broth! and waxes eloquent about its merits…

In the soup I share here, your family will just love the flavor. They won’t know what they’re tasting (the je ne sais quoi), but they won’t feel like they’re on a restricted diet. Lemongrass is often used in Thai cooking. If you took a poll, most Americans would say that Thai food is among their favorite kinds of food. So, too, with this soup or its broth alone– it’s favorite-quality.

Why It’s Nourishing

In this recipe I show you how to combine a beautiful, fresh, gelatin-rich broth with this incredible essential oil. And here are among the many benefits of doing so!:

  • It tastes AMAZing!!!
  • Lemongrass EO is perfect for the GAPS Diet because it’s a gastric stimulant! Yes, it stimulates digestion!
  • It regulates the parasympathetic system, the portion of the body’s nervous system responsible for unconscious actions: sleep, digestion (from the production of saliva all the way to defecation), sexual arousal, and the fight or flight response.
  • One of the nerves included in the parasympathetic system is the vagus nerve. Lemongrass supports the vagus nerve, which helps prevent this: “Now one of the earliest signs of the brain not firing well is poor vagal activity, which will manifest as decreased pancreatic enzyme secretion, poor gallbladder function, and poor gut function overall. And it basically works like this, you have decreased activity in the brain…and that decreases the activation of the vagal motor nuclei, which in turns suppresses the intestinal immune system and decreases intestinal blood flow. And when that happens you get an increased growth in pathogenic yeast and bacteria, that cause intestinal permeability or leaky gut…and leaky gut causes a state of chronic low grade inflammation. Then the inflammatory cytokines produced in the gut travel through the blood and they cross the blood-brain barrier. One of the problems with inflammation is that it makes the blood-brain barrier leaky so you get leaky brain.” (source) Whew! The good news? This EO is healing for those of us with leaky gut! or leaky brain!
  • The vagus nerve stimulates the secretion of  digestive enzymes and the workings of the intestines. An essential oil that supports the vagus nerve can be transformative for those suffering from SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), which results in part from sluggish digestion. (source)
  • Lemongrass essential oil is not only safe to use internally, it is suggested to heal the digestive tract! (source)
  • It reduces inflammation, helps the body to detoxify and is a potent source of vitamins.
  • Lemongrass boosts energy, relieves headaches, and kills germs!
  • It fights fungal infections and yeast overgrowth.
  • It’s convenient! Unlike most grocery items needed to make food taste special, like fresh herbs, essential oils are ready and waiting. They add an amazing flavor and subtle complexity to food, without any forethought or extra work!

Really the list goes on and on. One warning: lemongrass can stimulate menstrual flow; so it’s not advised for pregnant women. Lemongrass is also not recommended topically for children, by some sources. Sources vary in their safety recommendations; so use your own discretion. We do feed this soup to our kids; and they love it! But be aware, and make a wise choice for your family. Also, while my research shows lemongrass essential oil taken internally aids in the healing of one’s digestion, lemongrass EO is not officially on the Yes or No list of GAPS Diet-approved foods. So again, use your own discretion.

Here’s the lemongrass essential oil I buy. (I also mention using basil essential oil as a second and delicious option in your broths and soups. Here’s the one I use.)

Just Broth

You don’t have to make the full soup recipe shared below. You can just blend your beautiful broth with lemongrass essential oil. This brief blending totally transforms plain old broth into a white, frothy treat. (Adding fresh ginger and garlic are two other delicious components for wellness.) To make a small batch, place 3 cups very warm broth into blender. Add 1 shake (1-2 drops) lemongrass essential oil. Blend on medium speed 12 seconds. Reheat to hot. Serve. Enjoy.

GAPS Diet soup with a wonderful, healing, "secret", delicious ingredient!


5 from 1 vote
GAPS Diet soup with a wonderful, healing, "secret", delicious ingredient!
Nourishing GAPS Soup with a *Secret* Ingredient {also Paleo/AIP}
Prep Time
1 min
Total Time
1 min
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Megan
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs organic; chopped into 1" cubes or leave whole to shred after cooking
  • 1-1/2 pounds bones sustainably-sourced, chicken feet are the best!
  • 1-1/2 gallons filtered water or whatever amount of water fills your pot
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups winter squash cooked leftover squash, scooped or in chunks; or other basic veggies: cabbage, chopped; sauteed sliced mushrooms, frozen peas etc.
  • 1 bunch green onions or chives, chopped finely
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sea salt or up to 2 Tablespoons sea salt for larger crock pots
  • 4 shakes (about 6-8 drops) lemongrass essential oil or basil essential oil, or a combination of both: see links below
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated or finely minced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic optional
  1. Place bones, water and sea salt into pot or Instant Pot. If IP, seal lid, close steam vent, press Soup button (30 minutes). Otherwise, cook broth for 2-3 hours according to these instructions: (Or see link* below.)
  2. If using IP, allow pressure to release on its own for 15 minutes; then press Cancel, open vent, and when steam is done escaping, open lid. Using a ladle or tongs remove bones to large bowl. Allow pot to cool slightly, then strain broth into two 1/2-gallon jars (place metal spoon inside to prevent cracking*) or storage container. Rinse out Instant Pot or cooking pot.
  3. Add chicken and carrots** (and any additional desired raw vegetables, excluding already cooked winter squash) to pot. Add 1/2 gallon broth. Set aside 3 cups additional broth. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and carrots are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. In IP, replace lid, close vent, press Soup button and adjust time to 5 minutes. When timer goes off, allow pressure to release on its own for 15 minutes. Then press Cancel and open steam vent. Shred chicken using two forks, if thighs were left whole. (It will almost fall apart.)
  4. Place the 3 cups broth (set aside earlier) into blender, still warm. Add essential oil (and optional ginger and garlic). Blend on medium speed for 10 seconds. Add blender contents to soup pot that contains chicken, stirring to combine. Add optional leftover winter squash and any sauteed veggies or lightly cooked peas. Taste, adding sea salt if needed. Serve, garnished with lots of green onions or chives.
Recipe Notes

*This is a fun bone broth storage tip. If you place a metal utensil into your canning jar before pouring in the hot broth, the utensil will absorb the heat and prevent breakage.

Here's the lemongrass essential oil I use.

Here's the basil essential oil I use.

*See How to Make Bone Broth here.

**This recipe method has the carrots simmer, which is a gentle GAPS Diet preparation, suitable for the Introduction Diet. However, if you want a more gourmet approach and flavor, saute the carrots instead.



Looking for more recipes that use essential oils? Here’s a roundup of 27, all of which use whole foods and many of which are catered to healing diets, including GAPS. Concerned about using essential oils in cooking? I wrote a post on this topic here.

Does your GAPS soup need some new pizzazz? (Soup cookbook coming … ! 🙂 )

Comments 25

  1. I love the flavors! Yet I am confused, why do you cook this for such a short time? It does not have the therapeutic properties of a long cook bone broth. Is it a decision made for flavor or convenience? Would you consider using a bone broth prepared like the one in your other recipe instead of water? Or would you reuse the bones from this recipe for a longer cook for bone broth? Or perhaps this recipe is geared toward folks in early stage GAPS who cannot tolerate a longer decocted broth? I’d be ever so grateful if you’d share more of your thinking on this with me.

    1. Hi Debra! I thought this question might come up, and I should have included more background on it in the main text. So, great question! The two hour broth is higher in gelatin and lower in histamines. Yes, it’s gentler. And yes, great for GAPS Intro. Also, the higher gelatin content means that when you blend it in the blender with the EO it truly gets foamy and white, frothy and amazing. If you use a longer cooked broth (24 hour or more) you could add 1 Tablespoon gelatin per serving to get this same effect. I have a mild sensitivity to histamines and love how gelatin-rich and gentle the 2-hour broth is. Plus, it makes this whole recipe come together quickly. Those are my reasons. You can definitely use a more mineral and collagen-rich longer cooked broth in place (+ optional gelatin). 🙂

      1. Aw, final answer to a final question you had: yes, you can then re-use the bones for a 24-72 hour broth, which is what I advise anyway in my post about how to make bone broth and avoid fat rancidity.

        1. Thank you, Megan, for such a prompt and informed reply. This is a nuance of making broth and soups to be explored! Your chicken soup looks wonderful, I have a whole chicken in the freezer that I think I will use for this recipe. 🙂

  2. I love this! So fun with the secret ingredient too! I’ve never used lemongrass EO in cooking before, I’ve only diffused it. But I have used EO’s in ice cream and other sweet treats – usually chocolate treats 😉

    1. COOL!! One day! For now, the EO is ready for me during or after a full day of home schooling and being with my kids! Healthy, easy and on hand always!

    1. The whole purpose for me of using an essential oil is that I don’t have to buy lemongrass grown far away and conventionally, and that I always have the EO on hand, so convenient. If you grow it!! That’s WONDERFUL!! Then, crush it and steep it in the hot broth. 🙂

    1. Oh Erin, I’m so sorry, and I hope it makes a huge difference for you! It really is a game-changer. It’s what made my teenage daughter finally like bone broth in general, and I just love it.

  3. I just ordered an IP and can’t wait to try making soup in it. Although it seems like you have a lot of extra steps involved where maybe you could throw a lot of the items in together and cut down on the steps. When cooking broth on the stove top, I usually use about 1/2 a lemongrass stalk cut length wise. And save the other half for the following week. If you want to give your broth an extra boost, add turmeric. I peel it and chop it in slices to throw in with broth. But then when I turn it into soup, I sometimes then add some extra grated turmeric. I do the same thing with the ginger. Slice it up into the broth, and then add some more grated ginger when I make it into soup. But if you don’t feel like grating ginger and turmeric (or are running short on time), the original broth was simmered with ginger and turmeric.

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