Hearty Slow Cooked Oxtail Soup

I had hoped sell this at Alresford Country, but unless someone tells me of a source of cheap oxtail this will have to remain a family treat.  And after a 4km frosty cycle ride followed by a 2km walk up St Catherine's Hill and back I think the kids (on an inset day) and I deserve it.  It is, however, a 24 hour process so plan ahead for a chilly day's reward.

600g oxtail (local butcher seems to sell in this size pack)
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 stick of celery
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tin tomatoes
2 organic beef stock cubes
Boiled water
Thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp black pepper corns
1 tbsp plain flour or 1 medium potato

Brown the oxtail in the oil in a frying pan and place in the warming slow cooker when browned.  If not using a slow cooker, use an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid, and place the browned oxtail to one side instead at this stage.

Peel and roughly chop the onion and carrot.  Fry this with the roughly chopped celery in the pan after removing the oxtail.  When the vegetables start to brown add the tomatoes, stock cubes, and 500ml of boiling water.  Add the herbs and peppercorns and bring to the boil, scraping all the lovely caramelised meat off the bottom of the pan.

Pour this into the slow cooker together with another 500ml of boiling water ensuring the meat is covered with liquid.  Cook on High for 6-8 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. If using a casserole dish, return the meat to the boiling liquid and again add another 500ml of hot water.  Cover and leave simmering for 2.5-3 hours.

When cooked, take of the heat and remove the hot oxtail carefully and leave to cool on a plate.   When cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and drop back into the soup.  Refrigerate the soup overnight.

The next day, about half an hour before mealtime, get the soup out of the fridge and scrape off and discard the congealed fat off the top of the soup.  Bring to a gentle boil and then either add a peeled chopped potato or 1 heaped dessertspoon of flour.  Simmer the soup with potato in for a further 20 minutes with the lid on before blitzing with a stick blender.  If adding flour, blitz immediately and simmer for a couple of minutes for the flour to thicken the soup.  Season to taste and enjoy.
Twitter: Leesa@sunhillcurry