How to make Sup Buntut, a hearty Indonesian oxtail soup that is a true comfort food.
Oxtail Soup or Sup Buntut is an Indonesian culinary gem that is the ultimate comfort food! This is a satisfying dish that brings together tender oxtail, aromatic spices and an ultra flavourful broth to warm the body and soul.
While oxtail is a delicacy today, it was initially considered to be a cheap cut of meat. Sup Buntut came to fruition as a result of having to make the most of available resources – aka zero wastage.
Oxtail is rare to come by these days, and not quite a cheap cut anymore so this has become a special dish to make whenever I come across some at the market!
Why you will LOVE this Oxtail Soup
- Warm and Comforting: Whether you’re seeking warmth on a cold day or solace for the soul, Sup Buntut delivers. It’s the ultimate comfort food, like a warm embrace in a bowl.
- Easy to Make: This recipe is incredibly easy to accomplish, even for beginner cooks! You just need a few key ingredients, barely any prep required, and plenty of patience to let the dish cook.
- Depth of Flavour: Sup Buntut boasts a complex, mouthwatering flavor profile. The slow-cooked oxtail becomes tender, while the broth takes on the rich, savory taste of the meat, various spices, and herbs.
Key Ingredients for Oxtail Soup
To make a pot of authentic Sup Buntut, you’ll need the following key ingredients:
Oxtail is the culinary term for the tail of beef cattle. The name “oxtail” is a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t exclusively come from ox, but is often sourced from regular cattle as well. The oxtail meat becomes incredibly tender and imparts a unique flavour to the broth – this comes from the bone marrow and gelatin attached to the oxtail. Frozen or fresh will work for Oxtail Soup, but of course, thaw first if using frozen.
Onions, garlic, and ginger form the flavour base.
Bay leaves, coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom pods add depth and warmth to the soup. I also added some white pepper pods, but this is not necessary at all.
Optional: Sup Bunjut:
Adabi’s Sup Bunjut is a secret weapon in any soups in Malay cuisine! Sup Bunjut is a bundle made of a combination of spices such as star anise, cardamom, coriander and cumin – some of which are spices that we are already using in the soup.
Sup Bunjut is totally optional in Oxtail Soup, and is most certainly not used in authentic Sup Buntut.
I always have a couple bundles of this lying around my pantry since it can last a long time. Adding it in will only make the soup more aromatic, and makes removing it a lot easier before serving. If you are planning to JUST use Sup Bunjut, I recommend adding two bundles of it to match the depth of flavour in this recipe.
Potatoes and carrots are the usual vegetables added, but I always add corn!
This combination of vegetables will add a subtle sweetness to the Oxtail Soup.
How to Make Oxtail Soup
1. Prep Ingredients
- Peel onions, and chop in halves or quarts.
- Peel garlic, and light smash with the side of the knife, so that it breaks, but is still whole.
- Peel ginger, and slice in big chunks.
- Typically oxtail is sold already chopped into pieces, therefore no prep is required. You can give them a quick rinse under water.
- Cut vegetables into big chunks.
2. Brown the Oxtail
- To your pot, add oil and heat over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add your oxtail and sear to brown for about 5 minutes. Flip this over to the other side halfway through for even browning.
Do I really need to brown?
Short answer – YES! This does a couple of things:
- It intensifies the flavour of the broth with optimal beefiness. Oxtail can be gamey, browning it beforehand will ensure the broth is more beefy than gamey.
- It will produce less scum to skim off later on.
That said, if you want a slightly healthier soup, feel free to skip the browning:
To a cold pot, add the oxtail and the aromatics and pour water over. Heat over medium heat until boiling.
While waiting for the oxtail to boil, toast the dry spices in a separate pan over low heat until fragrant.
When the oxtail soup has started boiling, skim off any scum off the surface. Then add the toasted spices in with the soup.
Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer until oxtail is tender.
3. Saute Aromatics and Spices
When the oxtail has seared, add the aromatics and the dry spices. Saute in the oil with the oxtail until fragrant.
You can remove the seared oxtails first for easier sauteeing, but I don’t find it necessary, especially if I’m using a big-enough pot.
4. Add Water and Simmer
Pour in water. Give a stir to combine, scraping the base of the pot with a spatula.
Add the vegetables too.
If using the Sup Bunjut spice bundle, toss it in at this stage.
Turn the heat to a high, and allow the soup to come up to a boil.
Once the soup has started boiling, turn the heat down to a low, so that it is a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid. That is really all the active cooking required!
5. Stew for 2-3 Hours and Season
Allow to stew for 2-3 hours, or until the oxtail is tender.
Occasionally return to stir the pot every 30 minutes or so. You may skim off any scum as it surfaces, but do not do this too often, as we do not want to discard that delicious beefy fat on the surface.
Feel free to add water as needed if too much soup has cooked off.
Once the oxtail is nice and tender, season with salt and pepper to taste. Give it another quick stir. Turn off the heat.
6. Serve Oxtail Soup!
To serve, remove the big chunks of aromatics and any dry spices floating on the surface.
TIP! There is no need to remove all of the dry spices, since they do make the soup look more appetising. Note that they are not for consumption, so be sure to not scoop them into the serving bowl, especially when serving children.
Garnish with cilantro, spring onions, and fried onions. Serve hot!
How to Serve Sup Buntut
Sup Buntut is traditionally served with a side of steamed rice.
For some heat and flavour, serve it with sambal belacan / sambal terasi.
More Recipes Like This
- Opor Ayam | Indonesian White Curry Chicken Recipe
- The BEST Beef Rendang Recipe | Indonesian slow cooked beef curry stew
- Mee Soto Ayam | Chicken Noodle Soup
Oxtail Soup | Sup BuntutCourse: Beef u0026amp; Lamb, Curries, Soups u0026amp; Stews, Dinner, Indonesian, Malay Cuisine, Recipes
1 tbsp Cooking oil, for browning
1 onion, cut in half
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3-4 cardamom pods
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
6 cups water
3 potatoes, halved
2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 corn, chopped into large chunks
1 pack of Sup Bunjut (optional)
1 tsp Salt and pepper, or to taste
Optional garnishes: fried shallots, chopped scallions, cilantro and lime wedges
- Start by browning the oxtail. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat a bit of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the oxtail pieces and sear them until they are browned on all sides.
- In the same pot, add the onion, garlic and ginger. Add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamom and coriander seeds as well. Sauté in the oil in the pot with the oxtail, until fragrant.
- Pour in 6 cups of water. Add the vegetables. Add the Sup Bunjut too, if using. Give a good stir to incorporate all the flavours. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula to lift and combine the residual oxtail flavour with the soup.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 2.5 to 3 hours, or until the oxtail becomes tender. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface during simmering.
- Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Once the oxtail is tender and the flavours have melded together, the soup is ready to serve.
- Serve the Sup Buntut hot in bowls, garnished with cilantro, fried shallots, chopped scallions, and lime wedges. You can serve it with steamed rice on the side.