Oxtail-Barley Soup Recipe

Oxtail Soup on a white bowl
Jordan Lye / Getty Images
Ratings (20)
  • Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 2 1/2 quarts (10 servings)

Oxtail-barley soup is a hearty offering that can be enjoyed winter or summer as a soup or main course with a salad and rye bread. It spans the boundaries of Eastern European countries and can be found in most kitchens.

Oxtails are actually beef tails and are a delicious meat source. You can eat the meat right off the bone or debone the cooked oxtails and add the meat back to the soup. This is a prime candidate for a slow cooker or pressure cooker.


  • 2 pounds oxtails (rinsed and patted dry)
  • 3 quarts water (cold)
  • 1 cup barley (not quick-cooking, rinsed)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 4 ribs celery (sliced 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 large onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon beef base (or 1 1/2 teaspoons salt)
  • 4 carrots (sliced 1/2-inch thick)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juice)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown oxtails on all sides. There should be enough natural fat so additional oil is unnecessary. Remove oxtails and discard any rendered fat in pan.

  2. Add water and oxtails to pan. Bring to a boil, skimming off any frothy foam that comes to the surface. Add barley, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, celery, onion and beef base. Bring back to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

  3. Add carrots and tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until carrots, barley and meat are tender. Remove meat from bones and return to soup. Remove bay leaf and serve.

  4. For a defatted version, cool soup in an ice bath and refrigerate. Skim off accumulated fat from surface and heat.