This week the weather started to feel decidedly autumnal. We’ve had a couple of very cold mornings – I can’t quite say frosty… yet! – and the leaves have been dropping in the garden. I’ve been craving more hot meals and, in particular, soups at lunchtime. We cooked up a tasty chicken soup last week using the roast-dinner leftovers and this week I picked up a marked-down oxtail portion at the supermarket and set my mind to making something I’ve never tried before; a beefy oxtail soup.Without any prior knowledge of how to cook oxtail at all I turned to Jamie Oliver for help. I found an oxtail stew recipe on his website and, even though it wasn’t the soup recipe I needed, I guessed that all the ingredients he used would create the best flavour combination with the oxtail. I therefore gathered together most of the ingredients, including thyme and rosemary from the herb garden, tomatoes picked from the greenhouse, carrots freshly dug up from the veggie patch and the onions we’d harvested a few weeks previously and dried out in the sun. I set to work turning the ingredients into a soup recipe, with a few additions of my own, and here’s what I came up with:Ingredients (serves 4): 750g oxtail, olive oil, 1 white onion, 1 red onion, 2 celery stalks, 2 carrots, a bouquet garnis made from thyme, rosemary and sage, 1 tablespoon of plain flour, 300g chopped tomatoes, 200ml IPA beer, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.
First, I tossed the oxtail in plain flour and started sizzling it in a large pan on the hob, using a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. While it was browning, I put the onions, carrots and celery into the blender and blitzed it into a paste. I popped the paste into the pan along with the bouquet garnis and stirred around for a few minutes before pouring in the ale and adding Worcestershire sauce and chopped tomatoes. I turned the pan down to a simmering temperature and put on the lid to allow it to blip away for about 4 hours! The soup is ready when the meat falls off the bone and at that point you can remove the oxtail bones and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. I’d recommend making this soup the day before you want it because a lot of fat comes to the surface during cooking and it’s easier to skim the fat off when it’s cold.
When I first looked at the oxtail I thought to myself “well, there’s no meat on that!” and I was sure that we were going to end up with a vegetable soup with a slight tinge of beef. In fact, after all those hours of cooking, the beef revealed itself and flaked off the bone in big meaty chunks. There was enough beef for four people and it looked (and tasted!) so good that we decided to serve it in a Yorkshire pudding, and flaked the beef into the middle of the pud before ladling over the soup. It was seriously good, and if you’ve never tried having a Yorkshire pudding with your soup before (I hadn’t either!) I can recommend it!
Let me know if you have a go at making this autumnal recipe and I’d love to hear other ways of cooking oxtail so please get in touch if you have any ideas – leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy.