Parting the Ox and His Tail: A Recipe for Oxtail Soup

During the Great Depression, folks boiled a lot of bones. But it wasn’t as gruesome as it sounds. They were making delightful, inexpensive and nutritious soups. Oxtail soup was one of them.

A hearty dish filled with chunks of beef and fresh vegetables, oxtail soup is the perfect dish for a winter evening. You can leave it simmering all day in a crockpot, or quickly prepare it on the stove top. Either way, oxtail soup is sure to please. And at only a dollar per serving, who could resist?

Oxtail Soup

(Serves 5)

1 pound beef oxtail
6 potatoes, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, quartered
6 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
4 cubes beef bouillon
ground black pepper to taste


In a large stock pot add oxtail, potatoes, onion, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and cabbage. Fill stock pot with water until all ingredients are covered.

Stir in bouillon cubes and season with pepper. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and oxtails are cooked through; the meat should easily flake off them.

Serve oxtail soup with a hearty, wholegrain bread.

The Austerity Kitchen Challenge

The Austerity Kitchen Challenge sets out to prove that austerity doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat humdrum, bland meals. Every few weeks The Austerity Kitchen will develop a new recipe that features inexpensive, readily available ingredients and post it on the site. Enticing entrees, (seemingly) decadent desserts, lovely lunches — they are all fair game for the Challenge.

We also welcome suggestions from our readers!

About The Kitchen

Christine Baumgarthuber holds a doctorate in English Literature from Brown University and keeps The Austerity Kitchen, a site that, as its name implies, considers plebeian culinary practices, past and present, in their historical context. She is also a columnist at The New Inquiry. Her work has been featured by Lapham’s Quarterly Roundtable and the Bon AppĂ©tit blog. Her book Fermented Food: The History and Science of a Microbial Wonder will be out Spring/Summer 2021 from Reaktion Books.