Remember a few months ago when I reviewed the Low Carb High Fat Cookbook and I said “what the heck is an oxtail?” (yeah, pretty much.) Well, my store started carrying it last week! So it was finally time to make oxtail soup. I really really still recommend that you get the cookbook because the pictures are amazing and the recipes are great, but since I can’t reprint the recipe in the cookbook I made up my own recipe. I also thought this would be a great time to go over some do’s and don’t for making soups and stews. I’ve made dozens and dozens of different varieties of chili, beef stew, chicken dumpling soup (pre-LCHF obviously), and much more, and I’ve also had more than my fair share of bad soups and stews at restaurants. Here’s some important pointers:
- DO: Brown the meat. And I do mean BROWN. Not grey. Not gold. Brown. The color brown. Take a brown piece of paper,
hold it up to the meat. Did you make that color yet? No? Put the tongs down. HERE’S WHY: Magic happens when you brown meat. Flavors deepen. Textures improve. Even though you’re about to stick that meat into a liquid, and you figure “meh, who cares, it’s just gonna get soggy anyway!” and you want to skip the browning part, stop yourself. This goes even for a pot roast. Brown the meat.
- DO: Use a mirepoix (onions/carrots/celery) even if you don’t plan on eating the veggies. HERE’S WHY: I personally hate celery. I get it. I know that carrots are high in carbs. I get it. And so it’s easy to say “nope, gonna just skip that part of the recipe”. Stop. Trust me. I put it in there for a reason. You can fish it out/strain it out/whatever later. The french got it right; onions and carrots and celery create a magic flavor profile that cannot be duplicated.
- DON’T: Skimp on cook time. HERE’S WHY: Some meats take longer to tenderize. Oxtail, for instance, isn’t gonna get all nice and fall off the bone until 4 hours out. At 2 hours, it’s still clinging hard and the flavors haven’t fully developed in the broth. So, unless you wanna look like a caveman and be complaining about sad tasting soup, have patience.
One last thing before we get into the recipe… what is oxtail you ask? It’s actually a cow’s tail. Quit your whining. If you eat a steak just fine, a tail is no different. This meat is gonna be so tender and flavorful. Tail is in the name. If you think your family won’t eat it, just don’t tell them it’s a tail. It’s gonna look like chunks of a roast when we’re done. Your secret’s safe with me.
Oxtail Soup Two Ways
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Your favorite oil of choice
- 2 lbs oxtails, any excessive fat trimmed (leave some on, though, that adds so much yummy!)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced in half length-wise
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 sprigs thyme
- One carton (32 oz) beef stock
- 12 oz of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional for second way: an additional 1 carrot diced and 1 celery stalk diced, set aside
Here’s our plan of attack. I’m giving you two ways to make oxtail soup. Either you wanna end up eating carrots and celery in your soup later, or you don’t. In both cases, you’re going to start out with some veggies in the pot to add flavor, and removing those soggy limp veggies from the pot. The difference if you want veggies in your soup is after 3 hours, you’re going to take out the soggy veggies and add in the diced veggies so they’re perfectly tender in time for dinner.
In either case, you’ll need to start out with a big stock pot. Heat the pan to somewhere around medium, and put down your oil of choice. When the pan has gotten hot, put in the oxtail. You are going to brown all the pieces. Once that is done, add in the carrots, celery stalks, and diced onion. When the onions get translucent and a touch brown on the edges, everyone goes in the pool: throw in the thyme sprigs, beef stock, and water.
This is my faaavorite part… this is the part where you set the timer for 4 hours (3, if you’re wanting it the 2nd way where you have veggies in your soup) and you go and take a long bubble bath or play Call of Duty or whatever it is that you do.
Here’s where we split:
IF YOU DON’T WANT CELERY AND CARROTS IN YOUR SOUP: When the 4 hour timer goes off, all you need to do is fish out the carrots, celery, and the thyme stems. Remove the bones. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
IF YOU WANT CELERY AND CARROTS IN YOUR SOUP: When the 3 hour timer goes off, fish out the carrots and celery that are in the soup. Add in the diced celery and diced carrots. Set the timer again for 1 hour. When the 1 hour timer goes off, remove the bones and thyme stems. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Bonus: I know, I know, you’re saying “Ellie, the title said oxtail soup three ways, what’s the third way?” Well, if you’ve got stuff to do and you don’t wanna babysit the pot on the stove, after you brown the meat and the veggies, you can throw all the veggies, seasonings, meat, and stock into your crock pot! Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is falling off the bone. Remove the bones and anything you don’t wanna gnaw on (veggies, herb stems, whatever) and serve. You won’t need to add extra water in the crock pot because crock pots are extra good at keeping the water in.