Garden Barley Oxtail Soup Recipe

Beef Stew in Bowl
Steven Mark Needham / Getty Images
  • 80 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Ratings (23)

Vegetables and barley enrich this hearty made with oxtails (beef tails) and loaded with beef. This two-step process begins in the crockpot and finishes on the stove to coax all of the delicious beef flavor from the oxtails. Feel free to use your favorite vegetables and give the soup a liberal dose of freshly ground black pepper for a little kick. This is comfort food at its best and the most flavorful vegetable beef soup you have ever had. If you are unable to find oxtails, you may substitute short ribs, but the flavor will not be as rich.

What You'll Need

  • For the Oxtails:
  • 4 pounds beef oxtails
  • Dash kosher salt
  • Dash freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin  olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounces) can petite diced  tomatoes with juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried  oregano (crushed)
  • 1 large bay leaf (broken in half)
  • For the Soup:
  • 1 quart (4 cups) beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup  barley
  • 4 carrots (peeled and sliced thick)
  • 2 large stalks celery (sliced thick)
  • 1 large  sweet onion (halved and sliced thick)
  • 1 large red  potato (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans (or 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Dash salt (generous)
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper (generous)

How to Make It

Sprinkle oxtails generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, coat the bottom with olive oil. Quickly brown the oxtails on all sides. You will need to do this in 2 batches.

Place oxtails in a single layer in a large oval crockpot. Pour tomatoes over the top and sprinkle with the oregano. Tuck the bay leaf into the mixture so they are covered. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High 5 to 6 hours until meat falls from the bones.

Let oxtails cool until you can handle them, then remove meat from the bones, discarding any excess fat. Place the meat in a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate. Pour the liquid into a separate container, cover tightly, and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. (You can make this up to 2 days in advance.)

When ready to make the soup, remove and discard the layer of fat that has risen to the top of the container with the liquid. (The liquid base will be gelatinous and firm.) Place in a large stockpot, along with beef stock and water. Bring slowly to a boil, then add the barley. Let the barley cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add carrots, celery, sweet onions, and potatoes to the stock. Simmer until just tender, then add green beans or peas and the corn. Return to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes until the frozen vegetables are warmed through. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste before serving.