Ox Tail Soup
Low and slow… the secret to this recipe is the miracle of time. Though patience is required, it is very easy to cook (it’s a soup!). Yields large, hearty & satisfying quantities.
1. Put a large stockpot/dutch oven on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Once hot enough to sear, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. When oil shimmers, brown the ox tails in batches for about 30s per side until brown all over. Do not crowd the pot as this will lower the heat and cause the meat to steam instead of brown. Set aside browned ox tail on a plate for now.
2. Reduce pot heat to medium. If enough oil remains (top up if necessary), add diced brown onions to pot with a good pinch of salt and saute for 2-3 mins or until they start to turn transparent. Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for another 2-3 mins or until the onions start to turn golden.
3. Add canned tomatoes & a couple of tablespoons of your preferred sauce, let it cook for about 1 minute. I find you need less tomato paste or Worcestershire than ketchup or BBQ. As the soup cooks, taste every hour or so and add more if necessary (which I usually do).
4. Add ox tails back in with beef stock. Top up the rest with cold water so ox tails can float an inch or two above the bottom of the pot. If possible keep your bouquet garni, pepercorns and cloves together wrapped in some cheesecloth/muslin or a tea infuser, and throw it into the soup. Cover and bring to a low boil on medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low so the soup gently simmers.
5. Keep covered and simmer for 4 hours, tasting every now and then and adjusting salt & sauce as necessary. You may wish to skim foam and fat from the surface as you go. However if you refrigerate overnight, the fat will form a solid layer on the top which can easily be scooped off the next day.
6. After 4 hours, remove the bouquet garni & ox tails and shred meat off, discarding the bones and bouquet garni. The meat should fall off easily. Add the shredded meat back to the soup. Let stand for 15 mins and taste for final seasoning.
As delicious as this soup is on the night it is made, it is ever better the next day once the flavours have developed even further. The huge amount of gelatin released into the soup will make the entire quantity solidify overnight. A gentle re-heat on the stove-top or in the microwave will transform it back into a luxuriously silky and hearty soup.