Homemade Oxtail Soup Recipe

Browning oxtails and vegetables for soup
Debbi Smirnoff / Getty Images
  • 3 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Ratings (44)

While some may balk at the idea of eating a cow's tail, this recipe will soon change their minds. Oxtails are beef tails, and they make the most delicious soup. While the name does imply otherwise, no specific breed of cow is used to make this soup. Oxtail is often used on its own to make beef stock for many soup recipes. It's known to be a gelatinous rich meat that is great for stews. ​

There are several different regional versions of this dish, but we'll focus on the British version of the recipe. Here it is made with onions, carrots, celery, and thyme. It does take a long simmering time because of the fatty meat but requires little work. The result is well worth it.

It is believed that this recipe was created in the 1700s in London. The recipe came from French and Flemish immigrants living in London at the time. Given their long cooking time and high-fat content, tails were traditionally a very cheap cut of meat often associated with the poor. This doesn't mean it isn't a delicious cut of meat. It's now a popular dish in many countries such as China, Korea, and Indonesia. The American south also has several variations of this popular dish. Currently, oxtail soup is a popular canned dish in the United Kingdom but nothing beats homemade.  This recipe comes to us from The New Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna.

What You'll Need

  • 2 pounds oxtail (cut in 1 to 1-1/2-inch chunks and trimmed of excess fat)
  • 1/2 cup unsifted flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 Tablespoons beef drippings or cooking oil
  • 2 medium-size yellow onions (peeled and minced)
  • 2 quarts water, or 6 cups water and 1 pint beef broth or bouillon
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 medium-size carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry or port wine (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Dredge oxtails in 1/2 cup flour, then brown in drippings in a large, heavy kettle over high heat; drain on paper toweling.
  2. Turn heat to moderate and stir-fry onions 8 to 10 minutes until golden; sprinkle in remaining flour, mix well, and brown lightly.
  3. Slowly add water, stir in tomato paste, salt, and pepper, also bay leaf tied in cheesecloth with thyme, cloves, and parsley. Return oxtail to pot, cover, and simmer 3 hours until meat is fork-tender; cool and skim off fat; remove cheesecloth bag.
  1. Separate meat from bones, cut into bite-size pieces and return to pot along with carrots and celery. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until carrots are tender. If you like, mix in sherry or port.
  2. Serve as is or strain pot liquid, serve as a first course and follow with oxtail and vegetables.