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Soup – The Low Down

The number one thing I get questions about on “The Food Plan” is soup. When you’re on the GAPS diet you should try to eat soup at least once a day, and then you add bone broth or meat stock on top of it. If you are starting the GAPS Intro, Stage 1 is nothing but soup. Yes. Soup for 5 days; morning, noon and night. You kind of hate your life, but then you start to feel really good and suddenly the soup doesn’t seem so bad; and then one day you realize that you haven’t had soup in the last 6 meals and you start to crave it.

I have a cohort of fellow GAPS followers in Tennessee who sent in some very specific questions, which I am going to answer to the best of my ability and then give you my latest soup recipe. [It was amazing and I am a little bummed that I used up the last of the leftovers today.]

1. What is the difference between bone broth & meat stock?

The short answer is the amount of time it is cooked. Bone broth requires 12-24 hours depending on the type of bones you are using. Meat stock can be prepared in about 2 hours. Either is interchangeable in recipes.

The long answer is the mineral/nutrient value is different. Meat stock is the starting point for someone with a dysfunctional gut, it is easier to digest and contains more gelatin and free amino acids like proline and glycine. These nutrients help heal the gut wall, and promote the excretion of hydrochloric acid – the protein breaker-downer for your stomach. Gelatin is an anti-inflammatory. Because bone broth is cooked longer, the gelatin is broken down more and free glutamates are released into the broth. If you’ve got a problem with MSG you may have a reaction to bone broth, and you should avoid it until your gut is healthier. Cooking on low heat at a slow simmer can reduce the amount of glutamates in the broth. Bone broth can be seen as a replacement for pasteurized dairy as it contains all of the minerals and nutrients needed for strong bones and healthy teeth.

2. Are there any tricks that speed up the 36-72 hour simmer time?


-You can use stock to make your soup instead of broth. (See above).
-You can make large batches of stock/broth once a week and save it in your fridge or freezer to use in soups. I have a 20 quart cauldron, I mean stock pot, that I purchased at Target for $50 to make stock/broth. I make 2-3 gallons of stock at a time. This will last me usually about 2 weeks using it as a beverage and in my cooking.
-You can use a crockpot to cook veggies and meat to add to prepared stock. Or to add all the ingredients to and let cook all day.

3. Do you prefer making soup with chicken or beef broth?

My all time favorite stock so far has been goose. We roasted a goose for Christmas dinner, and I saved the carcass to make broth. It was amazingly rich and flavorful, and I wish I had known then that I could reuse bones more than once for stock. I was sad when it was all gone. Beyond that I really prefer chicken stock for drinking because of the flavor, but beef broth is better in soups and stews. The other thing to consider is what quality of meat and bones you are getting. I can get high-quality, grass-fed beef bones at reasonable prices, but it requires a long drive or ordering them from my CSA. Chicken is available at Trader Joe’s, but it isn’t soy-free, so there is a trade-off. I usually will make a combo with chicken, lamb and beef. Any combination of the 3. Beef stock/broth is very bland, so I like to add some lamb bones or a turkey neck for some flavor. Lamb can be quite strong and if you don’t like the flavor of the cooked lamb, you will not like the broth. I haven’t mustered the courage to make fish stock yet, but I have cioppino on the list of things to try so we’ll see if I can handle the fish heads (eek!).

When you are making bone broth the cooking time for chicken is 6-12 hours vs. the 24-48 hours for beef bones. We don’t feel comfortable leaving our gas stove on for that long so the process becomes much longer with the refrigeration and bringing the pot back to a boil.

4. What are your favorite soup recipes?  What are the best ones to start with? Last favorite? 

Our family’s favorites are the standard chicken soup (sans noodles I typically add carrots, peas, kale, onion, celery and zucchini. Garlic, pepper, salt and organic seasoning mix from Costco get thrown in too), and leftovers soup. This is where I take stock and whatever meat I have in the fridge that the family won’t eat because they are weird about leftovers and any veggies I have lying around. I can hide all manner of sins in these soups.. pot roast that was overdone, gristly lamb legs, organ meat, etc. If the meat was tough or too fatty I will blend it into the stock with my immersion blender and then add some veggies to simmer. I once added cut up meatloaf!

Best ones to start with depend where you are on the food plan. If you are on stage 1 of the Intro there isn’t much I can recommend. The ingredients are all the same, so you have very little room for creativity. My favorite intro soup I created out of desperation for something other than cruciferous vegetables and boiled meat. I boiled carrots in meat stock (I think a chicken/beef blend), In a separate pot I simmered meatballs mixed with shredded carrots, zucchini and garlic. Once the carrots were done I blended them with 2 large spoonfuls of goose fat (the goose didn’t produce a lot of meat, but I got my money’s worth!) Then I added the meatballs to the carrot puree. It was incredibly good and I think could benefit from some fresh herbs like sage or thyme.

My last favorite is the recipe below. I threw the ingredients in the crock pot before a wedding job, thinking Mike and I would eat it for dinner, when we got home we were exhausted and full from the dinner I had packed. I put the crock pot in the fridge and saved it for the next day. I reheated it again, and realized that the 12 hour work day and kind of overcooked my chicken. Not to fear! Soup to the rescue!!


4 Bell peppers
1 Anaheim chili
1 Whole chicken 2 Onions, quartered
1 28-oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes
3 Carrots, peeled and roughly quartered
2 cups chicken stock

Taco Seasoning:
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
5 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups Butternut Squash, cubed
1 Onion, diced
3 Carrots, diced
1 cup chopped kale

Optional raw pepperjack cheese for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Arrange peppers and chili on a baking tray and roast until skins are blistered.
  3. Deseed and roughly chop.
  4. Place whole chicken in crock pot and surround with roasted peppers, chili, onions, carrots and tomatoes.
  5. Combine the taco seasoning in a small bowl. Rub into top of chicken and sprinkle on top of veggies.
  6. Pour chicken stock on vegetables
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.
  8. Remove chicken from the crock pot and let cool. Remove meat from bones. Reserve bones for more stock.
  9. Using an immersion blender puree everything left in crock pot.
  10. Pour mixture into a stock pot and add squash, onion and carrot. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add chicken and kale when vegetables are tender.
  11. Serve with optional cheese if desired.

If you have more questions please post below!

June 3, 2013 - 3:02 pm

Danielle - Another fantastic article! Have you ever considered adding avocado chunks as a topping (of sorts) to your stew? I make a type of tortilla-less chicken tortilla soup which is similar to your stew (minus the squash)and avocado makes it soooo good. BTW, I like the new layout of this site! The photography is pretty sweet too.

June 3, 2013 - 3:03 pm

Aspieventures - Thanks Danielle! I always forget about avocado! It would have been amazing on top.

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