Because vegetable stock is pareve, or neutral, that is, it contains neither meat nor dairy, according to the dietary laws, it may be eaten with either. But meat dishes generally rely on meat stocks; in Jewish cooking, it is foods glossed with butter or topped with cream that give vegetable stock its reason for being. Only vegetable stock can jazz up a plain pilaf destined to partner a butter-gilded fish. It is the sole stock base for a soup that will be enriched with sour cream or yogurt. And kasha, often insipid when prepared with plain water, turns inspired with a stock that permits generous lacings of genuine sweet butter instead of margarine.
You can purchase acceptable ready-made, even canned, versions of chicken and beef stock that will do nicely in
This is one of those recipes for which I am reluctant to provide exact ingredients and measures because it can be varied endlessly according to availability of produce and how the stock will ultimately be used. So think of this recipe as a guide.
Some of the optional ingredients here will give you bigger flavors. Use them when you desire a stronger, darker stock. Tomatoes make everything sing, but with a rather full-throated voice. Soy sauce and the liquid from soaking dried mushrooms can be insistent too. You may want to start with smaller quantities of these ingredients, and keep tasting as you go along, adding more as necessary. If you have the corncobs leftover from scraping the kernels for another use, they will provide an earthy sweetness.
And by all means, add other vegetables: anything in the onion family,
© 2000 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.