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Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri

October 23, 2013
 The baby was sick a couple of weeks ago. I should really stop calling him a baby, he will be two in a matter of months, but since I’m not planning on having any more children I want to keep him firmly planted in that position.

It was a Saturday and Louisa was home from school. It was a cold, rainy morning and The Professor had to do the obligatory weekend stuff which meant me at home alone with Mr. Sickypants and his sister.

Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri

 By midmorning the poor child had climbed up in my bed and fell asleep on his own free will while I folded laundry and Louisa practiced her handwriting on the floor. Trying to remain quiet, we snuck out of the room and played a board game and after he woke up we huddled over our miniature table in the kitchen and ate lunch.

Listless and pathetic he wormed his way into my lap and fell asleep. After Louisa had finished her quesadilla (extra cheese) all three of us snuggled up on the couch and watched not one but two movies—a double feature of our own making. While we laid there, my arms surrounding both my children, feeling their little bellies breath in and out, my nose buried in their sweet, soft hair I thought to myself, now this is how I thought motherhood would be. 

Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri

 When I imagined having kids I imagined these moments of peaceful, serenity—cuddling and holding them, walking quietly, my hand wrapped around their little, delicate one—not the constant chaos that is my reality. It dawned on me that when I pictured my future children, what I really pictured was them….. sick…..sleeping all the time and when they woke only wanting to cuddle or quietly eat all the food I put in front of them contentedly smiling all the while.

It kind of made me laugh at the ridiculousness of my childless self and also to vow (once again) to have more patience with my babies. Their loud, uproarious behavior is just them being kids, maybe not the docile ones I thought they’d be, but real-life, healthy kids.

Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri

 To try to get my son back to his mile-a-minute self I made him a rich, beefy broth with loads of vegetables and pearls of barley. This soup is made for these cold, autumn nights we’ve suddenly found ourselves in the midst of. The chimichurri isn’t necessary (all the chopping takes most of the patience I try to reserve for my children) but the vinegar and spice adds a bright note to the otherwise silky, meaty broth.

Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri

Yield: 6


  • 2 pounds oxtails
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, cut into coins
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • For the Cilantro Chimichurri:
  • 3 cherry pepper, stemmed and minced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


  1. Generously season oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper then coat with flour.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add oxtails (you might have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pot). Cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total, then transfer to a plate.
  3. Add onion and carrot to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute then add back the oxtail and any remaining juices on the plate. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until oxtail is tender, about 3 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, make the chimichurri. Combine everything but the oil in a medium bowl then slowly add the oil while mixing. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. When a sharp knife easily slips into the oxtails add the barley to the soup. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then ladle soup into bowls and serve with a generous dollop of chimichurri on top.

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  • Katie October 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Looks like just what the doctor ordered for a little one under the weather. I’ve never cooked with oxtail before, but now I will.
    P.S. Call him baby for as long as you can! It goes by so fast.

  • Kate Ramos October 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks Katie! Do give oxtails a try, they are a cheap and easy way to make delicious soup!

  • aida mollenakmp October 25, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Oh, my – this sounds like such a fabulous soup!