Oxtail soup is made with rich, beefy broth, tender oxtail, loads of vegetables and pearls of barley. Topped with a spoonful of Cilantro Chimichurri—the vinegar and spice add a bright note to the otherwise silky, meaty broth.
Recipe first posted October 23, 2013. Last updated August 10, 2022.
Oxtails may not be on the top of your list as far as soup ingredients go, but I kinda think they should be. There isn’t a ton of beef but the bones make and incredible rich broth as they simmer. Oxtail soup is serious soul food—and healing food, just as good as chicken soup in my opinion.
There are many versions of Oxtail Soup but I’m a particular fan of this one. It has a clean, silky broth and big hunks of carrot and celery plus some chewy pearls of barley that add a nice texture. The final touch is a heaping spoonful of fragrant Cilantro Chimichurri swirled in at the end. The vinegary pop of the herb sauce seals the deal.
What is Oxtail Soup?
Oxtail soup recipes span the globe from Jamaica (where it is more of an oxtail stew with ginger and a spicy gravy) to Hawaii who flavors their oxtail soup recipe with orange peel and star anise to China, Germany, Spain, every country has a favorite recipe. Mexico has its own version of course, which is more brothy and sometimes includes hominy like our other favorite Mexican soup, Pozole.
If you were wondering, oxtails themselves, are not specifically the tail of an ox but of any cattle. The name Ox refers to a castrated male steer which was originally the only animal tail used but now it can be from either sex.
What’s In Oxtail Soup?
Look for oxtails at your local Latin or Asian market. If they don’t sell them fresh, they usually have them in the frozen section or ask the butcher at your grocery store if they carry them (I know Whole Foods usually does) or can order some for you. And just like with anything, you can buy them from Amazon.
- Olive oil
- Yellow onion
- Sprigs fresh Oregano
- Bay leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pearl barley
- Cilantro Chimichurri sauce, for garnish
How To Make It
Prep your veg. Cut the onion, carrots, and celery into large pieces. I like to leave them in big hunks so they don’t turn to mush as they simmer in the pot. Chop the garlic too.
Season the oxtails. Generously season the oxtails with salt and pepper on all sides.
Brown the oxtails. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the oxtails and let cook, undisturbed until they are deep golden brown on one side. Turn and brown on the other side. This should take about 8 minutes total. Remove from the pot.
Simmer the soup. Add the vegetables to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Let cook in the oil left from browning the oxtails until starting to soften. Add the oregano sprigs, bay leaves, and return the oxtails to the pot. Add the water and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook until the oxtails are fork-tender, about 1 hour.
Add barley. Stir in barley, cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Serve. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls, top with chimichurri and serve. I like to serve the oxtails whole, but you could remove the meat from the bones and serve like that if you wish.
What To Serve With Oxtail Soup
- Crisp Salad. Cut through all that richness with Red Lentil Picnic Salad with Sweet Cider Dressing.
- Bread or Tortillas. Make your own warm corn tortillas or easy No-Knead Bread for dipping.
- Something crispy. Add a little texture to the meal and serve with crunchy Chicken Flautas.
More Soup Recipes To Try!
- Sopa de Fideo A childhood favorite with thin noodles in a comforting tomato broth.
- Caldo de Pollo Mexican chicken soup easily made in the Crock Pot.
- Vegan Pozole Verde Delicious green Pozole made vegan with pinto beans and hominy.
- Caldo de Res Mexican beef and vegetable soup, hearty and healthy!
- Sopa de Albóndigas Mexican meatball soup with rice, spinach, and tender chipotle meatballs.
- Chicken Tomatillo Stew Tangy, light tomatillo broth with chicken and butternut squash.
- Cozy Roasted Squash Soup A creamy (but creamless) vegan soup made with coconut milk and chiles.
This Oxtail Soup Is The Cure For What Ails You
Feeling under the weather? Or even a broken heart, a soothing bowl of Oxtail Soup will have you feeling better in no time. Give it a try and let me know when you do by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) ! Also, sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
Oxtail Soup with Cilantro Chimichurri
A soothing, satisfying soup with a bright, cheery chimichurri topping.
- 2 pounds beef oxtails
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, cut into coins
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 3 stalks celery, sliced into thick pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 recipe Cilantro Chimichurri
- Brown oxtails. Generously season oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper.
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.
- Saute vegetables. Add onion, celery and carrot to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add oregano and bay leaves then add back the oxtail and any remaining juices on the plate.
- Simmer. Add the water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until oxtail is tender, about 1 hour.
- Add barley. When a sharp knife easily slips into the oxtails add the barley to the soup. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- Serve. Season with salt and pepper and remove oregano sprigs and bay leaves then ladle soup into bowls. Serve with a generous dollop of chimichurri on top.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 3Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 12mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
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