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Oxtail Soup with Farro
and Root Vegetables

From the book Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen by and
Serves 4 to 6

Culinate recipe editor’s note: Though I had every intention of buying oxtail for this soup, the sticker price encouraged me to look for a less expensive substitute: beef shanks. The result was a hearty, delicious soup most welcome on a cold, dark night.


This soup uses a very simple technique that is time-consuming, to be sure, but requires very little attention and rewards you with loads of rich flavor. Consider this a Sunday-afternoon-on-the-back-of-the-stove kind of dish.

Although I use carrots, celery, celery root, and one of my favorite underutilized vegetables here — parsnips — you can use any variety of root vegetables that you have on hand or that look good at the market. Just be sure to use at least a few different kinds to lend real depth of flavor to the soup. I add the vegetables toward the end of cooking to keep the flavors bright and save them from turning to mush.

Any leftovers will make Monday-night dinner a snap, and the soup even improves if made in advance. Be sure to cool it properly in the fridge and taste for seasoning the next day. You may want to thin it with a little additional water if it’s too thick upon reheating.


4 lb. oxtail
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup farro
1 cup peeled and diced parsnip
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup peeled and diced celery root
1 cup diced celery
½ bunch Italian parsley, minced


  1. Place the oxtail in a stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Check the pot occasionally to skim off any foam and top off the water as necessary to keep the oxtail covered. Cook until the meat easily pulls away from the bone.
  2. When the oxtail is ready, remove from the water with tongs and place on a sheet pan to cool. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois and then skim the fat. You should have about 2 quarts of stock. If not, add water to make 2 quarts. Set aside. When the oxtail is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are soft but not colored. Add the farro and stir to coat in the oil. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer until the farro is almost tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. When the farro is nearly tender to the bite, add the parsnip, carrot, celery root, celery, and meat. Simmer for about 20 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender. If making ahead, remove the soup from the heat at this point to cool, then refrigerate. If serving immediately, add the minced parsley and serve.

This content is from the book Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen by Leslie Miller and Ethan Stowell.

There are 3 comments on this item
Add a comment
0% recommend this recipe
1. by Myrna Sossner on Nov 7, 2012 at 3:46 PM PST

I often see ox tails in the meat case and wonder how to cook them. I shall pay attention to the price and maybe give this a try.
I have only one question: What is farro?
Thanks. I have used several of your recepies.

2. by Sandra Aumiller on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:28 PM PST

Did you use an equal portion of beef shank - 4lbs?

3. by Carrie Floyd on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:42 PM PST

Farro is a grain, a kind of wheat. Re. the beef shanks, I used the same amount: 4 lbs.

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