Yemenite Oxtail Soup

Oxtail soup
When I see interesting ingredients in the store I can’t help buying them. I often don’t have any idea what I am going to do with them, but into my cart they go. I love to experiment with different foods and flavors and I would hate to pass up something potentially wonderful just because I didn’t take the opportunity to try it. Usually the impulse items are fruits or vegetables, but this time it was oxtail.

When I saw that oxtail was available from Kol Foods (they have grass-fed, pastured kosher meat and poultry, it is where we get most of our meat) I immediately added some to my Thanksgiving order. Eating paleo while keeping Kosher doesn’t leave so many different options for meats and seafood, so I am always looking for new cuts of meat to keep our meals interesting.

Many years ago, when I lived in Jerusalem, I had amazing oxtail soup at a Yemenite at a restaurant near Ben Yehudah. The restaurant is no longer there, but I knew as soon as I saw the oxtail that it was destined to become just that soup. When I found a recipe that called for not only oxtail but also fenugreek (another ingredient that had been sitting in my spice drawer for over a month since I had bought it on impulse without knowing how I would use it) I knew this was the soup I was going to make.

I have to say, this may be one of the best soups I have ever eaten. It cooks for most of the day and the end result is a soup that unbelievably rich and silky. The meat just falls off the bone. I have to admit that my husband was a bit skeptical about oxtail, but he could not stop raving about the soup. The original recipe included caraway which I didn’t have (I don’t make enough rye bread) so I left it out. I’m sure that made it a bit less authentic, but I loved the results so that is how I posted the recipe.

Now that the weather is a bit chillier I have been putting stews in the crockpot to have as a warm one-pot breakfast on Shabbat morning. They have turned out ok so far, but the long cooking time often leads to overcooked meat. This will be perfect because the longer it cooks the better the meat gets. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more oxtail to make it again.

Yemenite Oxtail Soup

By 12/03/2012

  • Prep Time : 30 minutes
  • Cook Time : 10h 00 min



Rinse the oxtail and cut it into sections along the joints. Place the oxtail in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming the foam off the surface until there is very little foam left.

Crush the peppercorns, cardamom, and saffron together in a spice mill / coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Stir in the fenugreek, turmeric, and salt.

Add the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spice mix to the oxtail. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible.Cover tightly and keep on a gentle simmer for 3 hours.*

Uncover and continue to cook until the meat is incredibly tender, for another 5-6 hours. The soup is ready when the meat is falling off the bones.

*The soup can be transfered to a crockpot at this point. Cook on low heat for 10 hours.

Recipe adapted from

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  • I also can’t help myself in the grocery store!!! I keep saying I will use up what I have and then I buy whatever looks cool and different on my next shopping trip. The saffron threads have been sitting for way too long! This soup looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. We love oxtail in my house!

    • Shoshana

      I almost made your oxtail soup recipe but decided to go Yemenite. I’m sure you could speed this soup up using a pressure cooker like you did, I just don’t have one.

  • Lisa J.

    Peppercorns are listed twice; is this an error? Also, you mentioned caraway in the original recipe. May I ask how much was called for, in case I have the chance (read: can get oxtails) to make this. (I love caraway.)

    • Shoshana

      I edited the recipe to make it clearer, peppercorns are now only listed once. The original recipe called for two tablespoons whole caraway. If you are using the caraway it should be ground with the peppercorns and cardamom. I hope you have a chance to find oxtails and make the soup!

  • sarena

    yum looks great but alas, no nightshades. How would it be without the toms?

    • Shoshana

      The oxtail has so much flavor I imagine the soup would still be good without the tomatoes. The soup might not be balanced in flavor since they add acidity, so I might add a splash of vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice to the finished soup. If you try it let me know how it works.

  • sarena


  • sarena

    Great ideas thanks

  • sarena

    OK I am making it now….Lol, I am having an issue though. I could cut up the oxtails, there are too many bones with no “intersections.” I put it up to boil with the hopes that later it will fall apart and be sectionable.

    • sarena

      ok I have it in crock now…added 2T apple cider vinegar and 1T coconut aminos…will keep you posted