You either need a pressure cooker, or lots of time…

Oxtail soup, a dish that can take years to truly master, as there are so many versions of this one dish.  Dependent upon culture and cooking influences oxtail soup can mean many things, and encompass many flavors.  The recipe I’m sharing with you today, is a bent on the traditional Caribbean style oxtail soup. Split pea, scotch bonnet and root veg or “hard food”, as some Jamaican call it. Oh, and lots, and lots of time.

I recommend that you buy your oxtail from a butcher, and have them trim as much of the fat as they can.  The butcher will slice the oxtail up for you, so ask them to slice the oxtail into 1 inch thick pieces and half the larger pieces.  Also, before starting out with this recipe, make sure to wash the oxtail thoroughly, with lemon, lime or distilled vinegar.  You need to rid the meat of any bone dust that was left behind after cutting.

As I’ve mentioned, you need time to make this wonderful oxtail soup, but it is so worth it. So set aside one Saturday afternoon and make it oxtail soup day!

Oxtail Soup 


Oxtail Soup
Serves 5
Oxtail soup with yellow split peas and root vegetables
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
5 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
5 hr
  1. Oxtail (sliced, 1 inch thick)
  2. 6 cups vegetable stock
  3. 3 cups water
  4. 1 cup yellow split peas
  5. 4 cloves garlic (grated)
  6. 3 celery sticks (sliced)
  7. 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  8. 2 carrots (peeled and sliced)
  9. 1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
  10. 1/2 cup fresh shado beni or cilantro (finely chopped)
  11. tbsp tomato paste
  12. tbsp olive oil
  13. 2 tsp coarse ground salt
  14. 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  15. 1 scotch bonnet pepper (whole)
  16. 1/2 tsp of freshly ground allspice or 1/4 tsp of crushed allspice berries
  17. 4 potatoes (or root vegetable of your preference) peeled and cubed
  1. Season oxtail with salt, pepper and allspice.
  2. Heat olive oil in large pan and add seasoned oxtail and cook until meat develops a light golden brown color all over, toss meat whenever necessary.
  3. Set oxtail aside in a pot - a large saucepan or stockpot
  4. Add onion, sprigs of thyme, tomato paste and garlic to the pan you browned the oxtail and add 1 cup of water.
  5. Braise until ingredients are combined and the aromatic flavors are released, and then pour over set aside oxtail.
  6. Rinse split peas and then throw on top of oxtails with celery and shado beni/cilantro.
  7. Pour in 3 cups of vegetable stock and 1 cup of water, cover pot and place on high heat until boiling and then lower to a simmer.
  8. Cook until split peas begin to swell - this will take half the time in a pressure cooker (approx. 30-45 mins), but if you don't have a pressure cooker, be patient leave your pot on simmer, stirring regularly to check progress.
  9. Once the split peas are nicely swollen you will notice that your soup has begun to thicken.
  10. Add 3 more cups of vegetable stock, stir and taste.
  11. If using a pressure cooker, set the pressure cooker cover aside now, and use the cover of another regular pan or pot to cover your soup. Your soup needs to cook slowly from here on.
  12. Add scotch bonnet pepper making sure not to pierce the pepper, you only want the flavor of the pepper, not the heat.
  13. Simmer for at least another 2 hours, then add your carrots and root vegetables, and stir. You might need to add a cup of water at this point.
  14. Cook until root vegetables are soft.
  15. Finally, once all ingredients are soft and have joined together in a lovely gloopy soup, remove the scotch bonnet pepper, give it a good stir and, if needed add some more salt and pepper, and then serve.