Homemade Oxtail Soup

Homemade oxtail soup

The Spruce

  • Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
484 Calories
23g Fat
19g Carbs
48g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 484
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 140mg 47%
Sodium 1488mg 65%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Protein 48g
Calcium 102mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Oxtails are beef tails (although the name implies otherwise, no specific breed of cow is used), and they make the most delicious soup. While some people may balk at the idea of eating a cow's tail, this recipe may change their minds. Oxtail is often used on its own to make beef stock for many soup recipes as it's known to be a gelatinous rich meat that is great for stews. 

There are several different regional versions of this dish; the British recipe is made with onions, carrots, celery, and thyme. The soup does need a lot of time to simmer because of the fatty meat​ but requires little work. Once you taste the soup, you will see that the result is well worth it.


  • 2 pounds oxtail (cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks and trimmed of excess fat)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons beef drippings or cooking oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions (peeled and minced)
  • 2 quarts water, or 6 cups water and 1-pint beef broth or bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 medium carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • Optional: 1/3 cup dry sherry or port wine

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Oxtail Soup ingredients
    ​The Spruce
  2. Dredge oxtails in the 1/2 cup flour. Heat the beef drippings or cooking oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat. Cook to brown the meat, remove (keeping the fat in the pan), and drain on paper towels.

  3. Add the minced onions to the pot, turn the heat to medium, and saute 8 to 10 minutes until golden.

    Minced onions in a pot
    The Spruce
  4. Sprinkle in remaining 2 tablespoons flour, mix well, and brown lightly.

  5. Slowly add the water, and stir in tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Tie the bay leaf in cheesecloth with the thyme, cloves, and parsley and add to the pot.

    Homemade oxtail soup
    The Spruce
  6. Return oxtail to pot, cover, and simmer 3 hours until meat is fork-tender. Cool and skim off fat; remove cheesecloth bag.

    Homemade oxtail soup
    The Spruce
  7. Remove the oxtail from the soup and separate the meat from the bones; cut the meat into bite-size pieces and return to pot along with carrots and celery.

  8. Cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until carrots are tender. If you like, mix in sherry or port.

    Homemade oxtail soup
    The Spruce
  9. Serve as is, or strain the liquid and serve as a first course; follow with oxtail and vegetables.

History of Oxtail Soup

It is believed that this recipe was created in the 1700s in London by French and Flemish immigrants. Given their long cooking time and high-fat content, oxtails were traditionally a very cheap cut of meat often associated with the poor. It's now a popular dish in many countries such as China, Korea, and Indonesia. The American south also has several variations of this popular dish. Currently, oxtail soup is a popular canned dish in the United Kingdom, but nothing beats homemade. This recipe comes from The New Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna.