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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!

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!

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

Classic Beef Soup

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, a spicy African oxtail stew or Spanish rabo de toro it is delicious! I’ve even got an Indian-inspired oxtail curry that I love!

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you chill the soup 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!

Can I keep the fat?

Yes strain it through two layers of muslin and keep it in a jar.

I use it to cook any of my recipes that call for lard or duck fat my Wiener Schnitzel or chicken paprikash recipes.

What do you mean by salt “at your judgment”?

This is a long cook and depending on how much your liquid reduces and how much salt is in your stock the amount of salt needed in this recipe changes dramatically.

Start with around three-quarters of a teaspoon when you brown the oxtail. After that taste at every single step and add salt as you see fit.

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 stovetop.

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 in 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, 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.
Landscape image of a British oxtail soup with a pile of shredded oxtail and snipped chives

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 28cm or 11″ frying pan or skillet (not nonstick).
  • 3.5-litre or 3-quart saucepan.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen tongs, stirring and serving spoons.
  • Colander.
  • Large bowls for chilling the soup and meat overnight.
  • Cling film
  • Small mixing bowl.
  • Whisk.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
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!


  • 1 Kg (35oz) Oxtail
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 200g (1⅓ Cup) Onion
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Carrot
  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Celery
  • 3 Sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 50 ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 300ml (1¼ Cup) Red Wine
  • 1.5 Litres (1½ Quarts) Beef Stock
  • 10 Whole Pepper Corns
  • Salt at your judgement
  • 1½ Tbsp Plain Flour


  1. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper generously.
  2. Heat the oil in a 28cm or 11" frying pan or skillet (not nonstick) 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 (3 quart) capacity.
  4. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery into a 1-2cm (½-¾") 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 in the bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns.
  10. Add the beef stock and simmer on low for 3-4 hours, after 10 minutes have a taste and add salt as required.
  11. When the soup has simmered and the beef for tender strain the soup.
  12. Separate the oxtail from the vegetables and discard the veggies and cover the liquid and meat in separate bowls then cool.
  13. When cool, refrigerate overnight.
  14. 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!
  15. Remove around two-thirds of the cloudy sediment.
  16. Gently warm the remaining jellified broth over a medium heat.
  17. Pull the meat from the bone and then shred it with your fingers.
  18. When this is hot and liquid remove around 125ml (half a cup) and add it to the flour.
  19. Whisk to form a smooth slurry.
  20. Pour into the soup whilst whisking.
  21. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  22. Add in the shredded beef and allow to gently warm through for 4 or 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


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!


Sunday 7th of January 2024

Great recipe. I have a batch in the IP now as I type. Things I do differently is use a mirepoix (which I make and then freeze in batches), So, my prep or mise en place takes even less time and no veggies to discard or blend and add back to the soup. Also, a similar amount of pale-ale in place of wine and a good slug of Marsala.

I've bookmarked some of your other recipes and am looking forward to trying them too :)

Brian Jones

Sunday 21st of January 2024

Having prepped veg in the freezer is always a good shortcut for cooking, although I kinda have to assume that folk are starting from scratch when I create a recipe here. Glad you enjoy this, it's one of my favourite recipes.


Thursday 12th of October 2023

I'd love to make this recipe! I like the idea of reusing the fat, but how long does it keep if you put it in a container in the fridge?

Brian Jones

Saturday 14th of October 2023

So long as it is stored "properly" it could last a long time, however I believe that sensible advice is that it will store in the fridge for up to a week. It is good though and it will freeze really well, just be careful to not heat it too quickly after defrosting because the moisture will spit like a very "spitty" thing.

Enjoy :)


Wednesday 14th of June 2023

We really loved this Oxtail soup, it was just how I remembered it years ago. Years ago Oxtail was a cheap option for soup making but this time it cost $24 for 1 kg then add all the other ingredients, we’re just grateful we can make it.

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of June 2023

So glad that you enjoyed it Faye, Oxtail is pretty much the same price here in the UK so it is an indulgence, but we are worth it occasionally ;)


Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Could this be done without flour? I’m on a Keto diet for diabetes, and cannot eat flour. I despise the gooey texture of Xanthum gum, but if by chance you had any other ideas I would be pleased to hear them.


Friday 3rd of February 2023

@Brian Jones, I’m always up for a bit of ‘throw it all together and see what happens’ 😺. Pleased to report blended veg made a lovely tasty version and worked well. Definitely a recipe to keep - thank you!


Thursday 2nd of February 2023

@Brian Jones, thank you. I don’t know about agar agar, not heard of it until now and not finding nutrition info on it - yet, but seeing as it’s from seaweed, maybe I should look that up. Arrowroot however, apparently has more carbs than cornflour has lol.

What would happen if I blended the carrot and celery into it..? Might try that 😺

Brian Jones

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

Hi Savanna... This is a long way from my expertise so this is a bit of a punt, have you tried agar-agar or arrowroot?

However, this soup is not very thickened and you could serve it as a broth kinda soup which would still taste amazing!

All the best



Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

I used your recipe in my pressure cooker ...90 min falling off the bone tender meat and a dark rich broth on . My family, especially the husband, appreciate the simplicity of this rich and filling on a blustery cold Scottish afternoon....thank you D

Brian Jones

Friday 5th of November 2021

You are more than welcome, I love this recipe! Glad to hear that the pressure cooker treatment worked so well!


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