A vegetarian version of bone broth

A lot of healthcare providers I know who are also fans of bone broth spend a lot of time trying to convince their vegetarian patients to eat bone broth. While I do think bone broth is essential, I don’t think that’s particularly fair to vegetarians to try to get them to eat meat. So, if a patient is unwilling to try bone broth, it’s equally essential to meet them where they are instead of trying to coerce them. Here’s my version of a vegetarian “bone” broth.

The gelatin component of bone broth cannot be replicated for vegetarians (fish gelatin is healthful for the pescatarians out there; just use fish bones and heads).

The mineral component can be replicated, and thank goodness! All of those minerals will help strengthen bones and teeth, keep the body alkaline, and benefit digestion.

First thing to start doing is saving all of your organic vegetable peels. Save them in a baggie in the freezer until you’re ready to make broth. Anything vegetable you peel is fair game.

If you eat your peels, that’s OK too. For the sake of this soup, select a wide variety of vegetables – potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, beets, zucchini/squash – peel them, put the peels in the pot, and cut up the vegetables to put in the soup. You can also add celery, fennel and soft skinned vegetables that aren’t generally peeled. You should also liberally add herbs like parsley, thyme, bay leaves, oregano, whole chiles and any other you like. The goal here is to maximize the quantity of vegetable matter and the diversity of color of vegetables, with an emphasis on the green. Another key addition to vegetarian bone broth is nettles. These can be bagged in cheese cloth and removed if you don’t care for the texture. But don’t skip this part because nettles have an enormous amount of minerals to add to your broth.

But, first, back to the peels… actually, first we dice two onions, slice two shallots, and peel and halve the cloves of a head of garlic. In an 8 quart stock pot, sweat these ingredients in extra virgin olive oil or pastured ghee with celtic mineral sea salt (to taste; check again at the end for desired saltiness) until the onions are translucent. Fill 2/3 of the way with filtered water and add a large piece of kelp or other preferred seaweed (check with your doctor first if you have thyroid issues). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

While the onions and friends are simmering, put all of your vegetable peels in an unbleached soup sock. Add the soup socked peels to the pot and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until they’re soft. Also add the herbs and spices at this point. If you don’t want any plant matter in your stock, you can put the herbs and spices into the soup sock, too.

You can stop there if you want, or you can proceed to making a hearty vegetable soup by adding in all your vegetables. Remember, color variety and quantity are what you’re going for. Cook the soup a bit longer, until the vegetables are your preferred level of done-ness.

Et viola! A mineral rich, vegetable extravaganza!


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11 Responses to “A vegetarian version of bone broth”

  1. ShawnaDecember 20, 2013 at 13:48#


    I wanted to thank you so much for providing this information and speaking to the topic of bone broth replacements.

    For myself and my clients with cavities, I read so much about bone broths and have been looking for a vegetarian alternative.

    Thank you!

  2. KatieFebruary 17, 2014 at 12:29#


    I would like to have a recipe for something suitable for vegans. What do you add for the glycine and proline content? Do you know which vegan foods are high in those?


    • Dylan Stein, MS, LAcApril 24, 2014 at 21:09#

      Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, so your body can synthesize it on its own. It plays an important role in calcium absorption and protecting muscle cells. Research shows the glycine supplementation may protect the prostate and reduce BPH. My favorite vegetarian sources of glycine are fermented soybeans (like natto), pumpkin, cauliflower, banana, kale, cucumber and spinach.
      Proline is very important for healthy skin and collagen. Vegetarian sources of proline are avocado, dairy and eggs, spinach, legumes, soaked whole grains and nutritional yeast.

  3. Jamie JacksonNovember 16, 2014 at 13:48#

    What about also adding Kale cooked for 45 minutes and some roots harvested in the fall like dandelion and plantain. I think that would really up your mineral count too.

    • Dylan Stein, MS, LAcNovember 17, 2014 at 09:31#

      Absolutely! I love adding just those things to my broth, though I usually do it per serving. Organic root vegetable peels can be added towards the end of the first cooking process. Another mineral-rich herb I like is nettles.

  4. ChenDecember 9, 2014 at 18:17#

    Thank you for posting about this, as I am a vegetarian myself and would like to create an adaptation of the traditional bone broth for vegetarian lifestyle.

    Now, about the vegetable peels, are they particularly high in mineral content? In another word, would I be losing out on NOT using the peels but using the peeled vegetables instead?

    I am also thinking about sourcing marine/algea-based collagen/gelatin. What are your thoughts on such substitution?

    Thank you!

    • Dylan Stein, MS, LAcDecember 10, 2014 at 00:54#

      The peels have a huge amount of nutrients. If you’ve got organic vegetables, throwing the peels out would be a waste. On the other hand, if you have non-organic vegetables, you’re throwing a way a good deal of pesticides. I don’t know about marine algae-based gelatin besides for what comes from fish bones.


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