Oxtail Soup: Natural Healing and Immune Booster for Winter

Oxtail Soup: Natural Healing and Immune Booster for Winter

The second half of 2018 has flown by while I was lost in the vine and exam. What a remarkable year it has been, with many new opportunities and challe

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The second half of 2018 has flown by while I was lost in the vine and exam. What a remarkable year it has been, with many new opportunities and challenges thrown at me… all at once… I’ve muddled through somehow, despite some physical and mental hurts. Now that all wines are resting after pressing, it’s time for me to heal my burnt-out self with this soulful soup and prepare for the next rounds.

You might think I’m being overly dramatic but surely, being responsible for an entire harvest for the first time is a full emotional ride. However, it has been such an enriching experience and I’m so glad that I was given the chance, even though, as they say, precious things come with a price. The price of not being able to share everyday moments with my family was one, but the bigger price was not being able to write for my blog or study for my WSET exam. I really missed the joy of writing and of course, cooking.

December is a festive month and also the month of sickness, not only from the cold weather but also from numerous end-of-the-year gatherings, which inevitably involves lots of drinking. And there is nothing better than the delicious bone soup to detox and cure hangovers.

So around this time of the year, I consciously try to eat more bone soup, and here in Turkey, Kelle Paça (pronounced as kele pacha), the Turkish version of the soup loaded with collagen and other good stuff that heals your gut and body. Although kelle paca doesn’t meet my taste 100%, it’s still a good alternative and I know the best places to eat it all over Istanbul for when you crave it.

oxtail soup

People who have had good Vietnamese Pho and Korean Gomtang or Seolleongtang would know how delicious and addictive the bone soup is, right? The other day when I was having dinner with friends, the topic turned to healthy foods, which led to kimchi and then bone broth.

There has been a lot of publicity in Turkish media about kimchi lately. When I told them that it’d take two days to make the bone soup in the Korean style, their eyes opened wide in disbelief and one asked how much gas bill I get every month.

Anything cooked more than an hour is regarded as excessive and difficult. Well, I suppose we had plenty of fire wood in Korea, according to Consider the Fork, the interesting book given by a friend.

Anyway, the extra work that goes into making the broth puts Korean bone soup above the Turkish kelle paca, I think and hubby confirms.

The extra work creates this pure white, non-smelly, delicious soup that have been nourishing from kids to adults for generations. Honestly, I was drinking this white milky broth with nothing in it, thinking it was cow’s milk when I was a kid!

So what takes to make pure white bone broth?

This recipe is for making the basic Korean bone broth using oxtail bones and you can use leg bones and other parts as well. On this occasion, I used oxtail bones and a knuckle bone, which was the only part my butcher had that day.

If you’re a visual person, you can skip to the link and watch the video. Step 3 to 5 are missing in the video since it was aimed for making the actual soup rather than stock for keeping.

Step 1. Cleaning: Soak the bones (and meat if using) in water for a few hours and drain out blood, and boil them submerged in water for 10 mins and dump the water and wash the bones.

Step 2. Put the bones back in and pour enough water (2-3 times the bones) and boil for 5-6 hours, first 30 mins on high heat and the rest on low heat. If using oxtail or cooking meat together, take them out midway to avoid meat getting too soft.

*You can add a big piece of radish, garlic and spring onion to get rid of the gamy smell and add extra flavours.

Step 3. Take out the bones, take meat off the bones and chill overnight. The next day scrape the fat off the surface.

Step 4. Put the bones and water into another pot and boil again for 4-5 hours to draw out the last bit of calcium and mineral goodies.

Step 5. Strain the broth and mix it with the first batch. When cooled down, divide it into small batches in freezer bags, paper cups, ice cube makers, muffin tins or whatever suits your needs.

When storing in freezer bags, try to make it as flat as possible so that it will be easier to defrost or break off in small portions as well as to save space.

This will be the base for many kinds of soup and dishes you make, and that’s why I didn’t add radish, onion or garlic or any seasoning. I can add them later when I make soup according to the soup’s flavour as I did to make this oxtail soup with a Vietnamese twist.

I infused the broth with a star anise, cloves, garlic and ginger and dropped the meat I’d reserved earlier. Then I added rice noodles, which is more convenient and my hubby loves.

oxtail soup

It was so delicious, especially with kimchi, and we ate the meat wrapped in lettuce and the special sauce at the same time. We ate this soup for three days straight and I feel so good afterwards. It actually has the medicinal benefits or could just be a placebo effect. Whatever the truth is, we still seek out this bowl of goodies whenever we feel under the weather or feel lethargic out of the tradition rooted in the Korean Oriental medicine, Dongui Bogam.

Making bone broth is not as hard as it sounds. All you need is waiting really. I can use this broth to make dumpling soup for the New Year’s Day and even better, I can tell hubby, when I’m away, “Take out a bag of broth and cook with some meat and noodles!” He will happily do it for sure.

Hoping that you also missed reading my food stories, and in the next post, I’ll fill you in with the wine adventures I’ve been on in the past few months. Until then, Merry Christmas to all of you!