Oxtail soup

Oxtail soup
Makes: 4 portions
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1.25 kg oxtail
  • 4 tbspn flour
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 70 gr tomato purée
  • 300 ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1.2 litres beef stock
  • 1 tbspn fresh parsley
  1. Cut the oxtail in small segments through the joint. Toss the oxtail pieces in the flour shaking off any excess. Roughly chop the onion, celery, carrot and garlic.
  2. Heat some oil in a hot pan until really hot.
  3. Add the oxtail pieces and fry in batches over a high heat until deeply browned all over. Remove and set aside for later.
  4. Add some extra oil to the pan and cook the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden but not burned.
  5. Lower the heat to medium. Add tomato purée and any remaining flour and cook for another minute stirring constantly.
  6. Pour in the wine and scrape the base of the pan to release all the tasty bits on the bottom. Allow to bubble for a few minutes to reduce by half.
  7. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and oxtail to the pan and pour in the stock. Simmer for 3 hours or until the oxtail is really tender, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.
  8. Remove the oxtail from the pan with a pair of tongs and set aside until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat from the oxtail, discard the bones and shred into small pieces.
  9. Pass the soup and discard the vegetables. Add the meat tot he soep and refrigerate overnight if possible.
  10. The next day, remove and discard the fat that has settled on top of the cooking liquid.
  11. When ready to serve, reheat the soup to order. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley.
Stuff to know
For the soup to have a deep flavour, it is really important to sear off the oxtail meat until dark brown.
If the soup is too thin, stir in some cornstarch mixed with cold water and bring to the boil again.
The tail being a tough cut of meat, it needs long and slow cooking to release its flavours and become meltingly tender.

It is believed that oxtail soup originated in France during the French Revolution, when the political turmoil resulted in widespread poverty. Cowhides were send from slaughterhouses to tanneries with the oxtail still on, deemed useless. One day, a noblemen saw the pile of discarded oxtails and asked for them. He made the very first oxtail soup. The French started to use this cheap cut of meat for a soup, up to the point that the tanners put a price on them being annoyed by the demand for the tails. The soup became popular in England when the French people migrated there.