Oh the memories are pouring in! I completely ADORE homemade beef oxtail and short rib soup. It is SUCH a soul-filled meal for me and during these cold months, I CRAVE it!!
My grandmother, Mau (that’s what we called her), ALWAYS had a pot of her oxtail soup cooking on the stove every Sunday. Back then, I didn’t understand why she started this soup at 10 am but now as I have perfected it over the years, if you plan on eating it the same day, you have to start it early……the broth needs to build for AT LEAST 5 hours and there is a great deal of time spent skimming the foam off the top to get that clear, yummy broth.
THE SMELL of that soup cooking all day is permanently LOCKED into my senses! It filled the air with all the root veggies and barley she added in. It didn’t hurt that she had a homemade loaf of bread baking at the same time…what a coincidence….oh the simple things!!!!
We went over every Sunday, about 5, and my grandpa was always lounging in his recliner chair, watching some silly TV show, I think probably Archie Bunker, but we RAN through the front door and straight to the kitchen and up to the stove where that old pot was stock full of this soup! Like a bunch of hungry cats, we pounced to the table and sat, acting so ravished as if we hadn’t eaten in 3 days….she complained how we were driving her a bit crazy but looking back, she couldn’t have gotten a better complement and she knew it, but she still had to fret.
I have a copy of her handwritten recipe but I think on purpose she left a few things off, mostly the “secret” of cooking the oxtails and short ribs for hours. There is just some scribbles about veggies and a few instructions but I treasure that recipe and have called on her to fill me with the cooking tricks only she knew. I think after several years, I got it, finally.
So here’s to you Mau, I think you would be proud.
- 2 lbs of beef oxtails
- 2 lbs of beef short ribs, ask butcher to cut in half
- 2 lbs of beef stew meat
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 6 celery stocks, peeled and sliced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed, ½ inch
- 1 celery root, peeled and cubed, ½ inch
- 2 rutabagas, peeled and cubed, ½ inch
- 2 turnips, peeled and cubed, ½ inch
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed, ½ inch
- 3 bay leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
- In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add about 2 T olive oil. In batches sear the oxtail until browned on all sides, remove and put on plate. Repeat with short ribs. Salt and pepper during searing.
- Add another 2 T olive oil and add beef stew meat. Sear and season with salt and pepper, remove and put on plate.
- Add another 2 T olive oil and add onion, garlic, celery, and carrots, Season with salt and pepper and cook until just getting soft. Add back ALL meats and bay leaves and fill pot with water about ⅔ full. Turn up to get to a rolling boil and put on cover (but leave a crack so that water doesn't boil over). Simmer for 5-6 hours skimming top of foam frequently.
- About 45 minutes before wanting to eat, cook barley as per directions
- About 30 minutes before wanting to eat, add in all the root vegetables and simmer until just soft. Taste broth and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Spoon in a little barley into bottom of bowl and top with soup. Serve immediately with homemade bread!
- *This makes a lot of soup so can cut down recipe but we LOVE leftovers and gets better with time! Can freeze but just don't add barley to soup as it will thicken it.