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Oxtail Soup an Old School British Recipe

Oxtail soup has many guises, this version is a classic British recipe takes time but is very easy to cook & results in THE best beef soup!

Portrait image of a British oxtail soup with a pile of shredded oxtail and snipped chives

Classic Beef Soup.

There is no rushing this old fashioned British recipe, it is all about breaking down the gelatinous nature of the oxtail and extracting all of that flavour!

What was once a cheaper cut of meat is now rather more costly. For good reason too and that reason is flavour.

This recipe is one of my all-time favourites and as far as I am concerned the best oxtail soup I have ever eaten!

Now it does need careful cooking and if you rush this recipe you will end up with inedible meat. But so long as you are patient this recipe is incredibly easy.

It ain’t just us British that are fond of oxtail though!

It is used around the world, famed for its flavour and the richness it lends to recipes.

Whether it be the classic Kare Kare from the Philipines or a spicy African oxtail stew it is delicious!

Portrait overhead image of a British oxtail soup with a pile of shredded oxtail and snipped chives

Why Chill Overnight?

Oxtail is chock a block full of fat and until you chill overnight you cannot appreciate just how much.

Now I like fat, it is where the flavour is at, but it has to be the right fat and the right amount.

When the stock has jellified overnight you will notice that it forms 3 distinct layers.

The bottom layer will be a thick, clear and jellified stock, this is where the good stuff is. 

The next layer will be the impurities, you can leave these in if you like. It will make your oxtail soup a little cloudy, I usually remove around two thirds.

The final layer is fat, you will be surprised just how much there is. I get rid of all of this, there is plenty that we are returning when we shred the beef!

Now I ain’t afraid of fat, I cook my Wiener Schnitzel in pure pork lard. But the aim here is flavour and not the consumption of fat.

As a result, I do not throw it away, I heat it up and pour through a muslin cloth and use it for frying.

Portrait close up image of a British oxtail soup with a pile of shredded oxtail and snipped chives

Alternative Cooking Instructions.

I usually cook this recipe in its entirety on the stove top.

However, I have done some experimenting to offer advice on adding either a slow cooker or pressure cooker into the process.

First of all, I must stress that I do this out of sacrifice not because I am greedy!

In my testing, the cooking method makes no discernable difference to this recipe. As a result, you can take your pick.

My testing also ONLY relates to the initial cooking of the oxtail. Once the meat is cooked it needs to set and rest overnight as my original recipe.

Slow Cooker or Crock Pot Instructions:

  • Chop the vegetables and throw them into the slow cooker.
  • Brown the oxtail in a hot pan in hot oil and transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine and reduce by half.
  • Pour into the slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients and cook for 8 hours on low.

Instant Pot Instructions:

  • Put the IP on Saute mode and when hot add the oil.
  • Brown the oxtail on all sides then remove from the pot.
  • Pour in the red wine and reduce by half.
  • Return the oxtail and remaining ingredients.
  • Add a lid and cook on high pressure for 90 minutes.
  • Allow the pot to naturally release pressure.
Square image of a British oxtail soup with a pile of shredded oxtail and snipped chives
Yield: 4 Servings

British Oxtail Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 45 minutes

Classic British Oxtail soup is a beautifully dark, meaty, beefy treat, this recipe is rich, delicious and massively flavoured!

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (35 oz) Oxtail
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 200 g (11/3 Cup) Onion
  • 100 g (2/3 Cup) Carrot
  • 50 g (1/3 Cup) Celery
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 50 ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 300 ml (1 1/4 Cup) Red Wine
  • 1.5 Litres (1.5 Quarts) Beef Stock
  • 10 Whole Pepper Corns
  • Salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp Plain Flour

Instructions

  1. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper generously.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and when hot fry the oxtail to get a nice colour on all sides.
  3. Remove and place in a saucepan with a 3.5 litre (2.5 quart) capacity.
  4. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery into a 1-2cm dice.
  5. Add the vegetables to the pan that we seared the oxtail in and cook for 5 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan occasionally.
  6. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce and reduce to almost nothing, stirring occasionally.
  7. Pour in the red wine and reduce by half, stirring occasionally.
  8. Stir in the tomato ketchup and then pour over the oxtail
  9. Add the beef stock and simmer on low for 3-4 hours.
  10. Add in the bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns.
  11. After 10 minutes have a taste and add salt as required.
  12. When the soup has simmered and the beef for tender strain the soup.
  13. Separate the oxtail from the vegetables and discard the veggies and cover the liquid and meat in separate bowls then cool.
  14. When cool, refrigerate overnight.
  15. Around 20 minutes before you are ready to serve skim any fatty deposits from the top of the soup. Your soup should be set like a jelly!
  16. Remove around two thirds of the cloudy sediment.
  17. Gently warm the remaining jellified broth over a medium heat.
  18. Pull the meat from the bone and then shred with your fingers.
  19. When this is hot and liquid remove around 125ml (half a cup) and add it to the flour.
  20. Whisk to form a smooth slurry.
  21. Pour into the soup whilst whisking.
  22. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  23. Add in the shredded beef and allow to gently warm through for 4 or 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 843Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 230mgSodium: 1079mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 78g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

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Samuel Trevers

Friday 27th of November 2020

you just say why chill overnight, chill what??? literally read this whole thing twice and don't get it. You say the stock but what stock? do we make a stock with the oxtail? is this deboned oxtail, what?

Brian Jones

Friday 27th of November 2020

I'm not sure how I can make this any clearer.

13) Separate the oxtail from the vegetables and discard the veggies and cover the liquid and meat in separate bowls then cool. 14) When cool, refrigerate overnight.

Also see the video at around 38 seconds.

Geoff Lewis

Wednesday 25th of November 2020

Am at the 3-4 hr simmering stage. Am really looking fwd to this. Oxtail soup is my all time fave. Haven’t had it since my last visit to the Salopian pub in Shrewsbury where it is top notch. Saw oxtail for first time in Costco - pricey but had to buy. I rarely cook so this is a real treat. Can’t wait. I suggest adding “vegetables .....in a separate pan” at stage 5 as was confusing. Best wishes - Geoff, Canada

Brian Jones

Wednesday 25th of November 2020

Hi Geoff. It's one of my favourites too and I added a video to this post just a couple of weeks ago as an excuse to cook it again, I'll check out stage 5 and see if I can't clear it up a little :)

Enjoy

NeeNee

Monday 17th of February 2020

Brian. Thank you for taking the time to explain about the fat. I've been making soup in the winter for my team of volunteers in our church Food pantry (not clients) for many years. I've made oxtail soup before and was always careful to skim fat off after refrigerating overnight, and its has always been well received and delicious. I always make my own stock and broth. I am making your recipe this week and following your instructions and I know it's going to be fabulous! Also thanking for holding your ground on the measurements. Conversion tables are abundant, and most good cooks don't need them anyway.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 18th of February 2020

Thanks for taking the time to write... I love this recipe, so much, it is glorious old fashioned cooking at its best!

As for the weights and measures thing, this site started from a desire to become a better cook, for me using volumetric measures for many items introduces a level of inaccuracy that I am not happy sharing. I do not expect people to weigh things out to the exact weight, but 100g is always 100g and as a cook you can then decide how important that is, a cup of broccoli on the other hand... I have no idea what that is ;)

Brenda Clough

Sunday 16th of February 2020

I loved this but hadn't the heart to throw the veg away so whizzed in in to the soup. Made it a bit cloudy and paler but full of vitamins. The meat fell off the bone

Brian Jones

Monday 17th of February 2020

Glad you like the soup Brenda :)

Mary Tognazzini

Sunday 2nd of February 2020

GEG, GRAMS,ML. RECIPE LOOKS GOOD BUT TAKE A MINUTE TO ADD POUNDS CUPS AND TABLESPOONS PLEASE.

Rosie

Friday 24th of April 2020

@Brian Jones, I love this! -An Aussie fan with a brain and the internet (which happens to have conversion tables for the yanks).

Brian Jones

Monday 3rd of February 2020

Hi Mary... Thanks for taking the time to write to me, I will not be adding cup measures to my site as I find it a terribly inaccurate way to measure goods for the sort of food that I cook, I very strongly advocate weighing goods when cooking. As a result of this the difference between metric and imperial becomes a moot point as any decent $10 set of scales will allow you flip between metric and imperial at will.

It is something that I do all of the time when cooking from American websites or books.

Regards

Brian