Learn how to make hearty, warm, and deeply satisfying oxtail soup. This one-pot recipe combines tender, melt-in-your-mouth oxtail meat with a rich, aromatic broth to make the ultimate comfort soup you’ll crave all winter long!
If you’re new to oxtails, they’re basically chunks of cattle tails. Oxtails are best prepared low and slow so the collagen can infuse and break down the meat until it’s fall-apart tender. If you enjoy short ribs, I know you’ll love oxtails!
We’ve been making a lot of oxtail stew lately, but I love to switch it up occasionally and make this soup. Since it’s more broth-heavy, and the broth is quite subtle, it lets the flavor of the tender meat shine.
Why this recipe works
- Healthy and nutritious. Oxtails are full of collagen and animal-based fats. Coupled with tons of veggies, it makes for a nutritious and delicious soup.
- One pot meal. Just like my beef stew, you only need one pot to make everything, so the cleanup will be over before you know it.
- Customizable. Stir in cooked rice or pasta, or add extra vegetables to make a heartier dish. The options are endless.
- Perfect texture. Oxtails cooked low and slow will fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.
What I love most about this oxtail soup is how delicious it tastes the day after you make it. It’s one of my favorite meals for leftovers since the meat continues to soak up the flavors in the broth. In fact, I like to make extra so I can freeze it and enjoy the leftovers all winter long.
The ingredient list may look lengthy, but it’s really just a handful of veggies, seasonings, oxtails, and beef stock. Here are the specifics:
- Oxtails. Be sure to choose oxtails with the bone intact since they will add a ton of flavor and nutrients as the soup simmers.
- Salt and black pepper. To taste.
- Oil. For sauteeing the veggies.
- Onion, carrots, and celery. To make the mirepoix; an essential for any hearty soup.
- Garlic. A must-have aromatic element.
- Flour. To thicken the soup.
- Tomato paste. For concentrated tangy flavor.
- Red wine. Red wine gets added to deglaze the pan and add an extra layer of flavor, though you won’t taste any wine in the soup. I recommend a mild cabernet sauvignon or pinot grigio. This can be swapped for extra beef broth if you prefer.
- Bay leaves. For flavor and aroma.
- Fresh thyme and parsley. For fresh, herbaceous flavor.
- Star anise. One star anise pod is all that’s needed to add a secret, subtle licorice flavor. Don’t worry, it won’t overpower the soup in the slightest.
- Beef stock. For the broth. I prefer low-sodium beef stock, so I have more control over how much salt gets added to the soup.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make oxtail soup
Making oxtail soup is largely a hands-off process, so you won’t have to spend all day in the kitchen. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1- Season the oxtails: Sprinkle salt and pepper on the oxtails and set them aside.
Step 2- Cook the vegetables: Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to an oiled pot set over medium-high heat. Cook until the vegetables are tender.
Step 3- Make the roux: Add flour to the pot and cook until it becomes golden brown, then add tomato paste and combine.
Step 4- Deglaze the pan: Add the red wine and scrape the bottoms of the pan. Then, add the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Step 5- Add the rest of the ingredients: Add the beef stock and meat back to the pot and cook for 2-3 hours, depending on how tender you want the meat.
Step 6- Serve: Once the meat is cooked, discard the bones and bay leaves, shred the meat, and serve the soup.
Can I use a slow cooker?
Yes, if you’d prefer to use a slow cooker to make this soup, you certainly can. I actually prefer using this when I’m making a bigger batch and want to set-and-forget it.
Start by sauteeing the vegetables in an oiled pot. Once tender, add the flour and cook until golden brown. Then, transfer the vegetable mixture to the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix to combine, then close the lid and cook on high for 2-3 or low for 6-8 hours. Then, remove the meat from the bones, discard the bones and bay leaves, and serve.
Recipe tips and variations
- Sear the oxtails. Searing the oxtails until browned on all sides adds a pleasant caramelized flavor that compliments the soup well.
- Make it a heartier meal. When I’m feeding a big crowd or want an easy all-in-one meal, I like to cook rice, pasta, or chopped potatoes in the soup as it’s simmering.
- Remove excess fat. Oxtails naturally have a lot of fat, but too much can make the soup oily. Either remove the excess fat with a pairing knife before cooking or wait until the soup is cooked, and it should slide off easily with the back of a spoon.
- Save extra parsley. Use it to garnish the soup for a pop of color.
To store: Once the soup cools, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat: Microwave in 30-second intervals or heat in a pot set over medium heat. Allow frozen leftovers to thaw overnight in the fridge, or add more reheating time.
To freeze: Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to three months.
More hearty soups and stews to try
- Venison stew
- Beef vegetable stew
- Albondigas soup
- Roasted cauliflower soup
- Turkey noodle soup
- Cheeseburger soup
- 3 pounds oxtails chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine or more beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- 1 star anise
- 8 cups beef broth
- Season the oxtails with salt and pepper on all sides and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat and add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook the vegetables until tender.
- Add flour to the pot and cook until it becomes golden brown, then add the tomato paste and quickly combine.
- Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan. Add spices and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the beef broth and bring back the meat and cook for two hours, or until the meat is tender.
- Once cooked, discard the bones, shred the meat, and serve the soup.
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