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I’ve been making healing soups for many years, and yes, my new soups and stews cookbook is finally here and available! 🙂 But in this recipe, I learned something different, a new way to make a beautiful, nourishing GAPS Diet soup, and it’s so special (because of a secret ingredient) that I want to share it with you here.
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.
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.
- 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
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: http://bit.ly/2dtNQ2p (Or see link* below.)
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.
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.)
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.
*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.