Indonesian famous sop buntut (oxtail soup) that tastes as good as the one you find in some of the best Indonesian restaurants. You only need some oxtails and surprisingly other easy-to-find ingredients to recreate this iconic Indonesian soup.
Indonesia has many iconic dishes, and if you ever visit Indonesia, I truly believe that one simply must make an effort to try sop buntut (oxtail soup) once, at the very least. If a restaurant serves sop buntut at all, it will be really hard to miss since this soup is probably the most expensive dish among the many dishes available. I am sure that part of the reason for the princely price is due to the cost of buntut (oxtail), they are comparable to some of the choices cut of beef! This is why I rarely make this soup, though I love them to death. And when going out for a bite, I will treat myself to this maybe once in a year, haha, since the next cheapest dish in a menu can easily be half the price of this soup. I kid you not.
What do I need to prepare sop buntut?
This iconic Indonesian soup is super easy to prepare at home. You will need these ingredients for the soup:
- aromatics: shallots, garlic, onion, and ginger
- spices: nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon
- salt, sugar, and white pepper
And for the accompaniments, you will need:
- scallions (Indonesian: daun bawang)
- Chinese celery (Indonesian: daun seledri)
- lime juice (Indonesian: air jeruk nipis)
- fried shallot (Indonesian: bawang goreng)
And don’t forget the chili sauce, which is a simple mixture of:
- bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit)
- sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
How do I cook sop buntut?
It is really easy to cook sop buntut at home. My step-by-step is like this:
- Boil oxtails and water in a soup pot, then simmer until the meat is tender. This usually takes about 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker, you can reduce the cooking time considerably to a mere 30 minutes.
- While the oxtail boils, I grind the spice paste, which consists of shallots, garlic, ginger, and onion.
- I also peel and chop the carrot and potatoes, as well as all the accompaniments, which consist of tomato, scallion, Chinese celery, and lime.
- Once the oxtails are tender, I scoop them out from the soup pot, then I strain the broth so I get a clear soup. I then return the strained broth and the oxtails back to the pot.
- Next, I fry some oil in a frying pan to sauté the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg until fragrant. This is then added to the soup pot.
- Return the soup to a boil, then add chopped carrot, potato, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
And our sop buntut is done! ♥
How do I serve sop buntut?
I usually serve sop buntut in individual soup bowls, with all the garnish, accompaniments, and the chili sauce laid out on the dining table. That way, everyone gets to customize their soup with their favorite garnishes. The soup is almost always served with steamed white rice.
Storing and reheating the soup
This soup tastes great days or even weeks after you cook it. If you plan to finish your soup within 1 week, store the leftover in an airtight container and stick it in the fridge. If you make like a really big batch, you can store the leftover in an airtight freezer-safe container, and freeze the soup.
To reheat, you can place the soup (simply chilled or completely frozen) in a soup pot and heat on medium until the soup boils. It will taste exactly like the day you make it.
Another sop buntut varation with grilled oxtail
Lately there seems to be numerous places offering sop buntut bakar (grilled oxtail soup). These places claimed that they grilled the oxtail first, presumably with some spices, and made the soup from the grilled oxtail. If you own a grill, you can give it a try. I wouldn’t be surprised if the taste is indeed superior to the traditional one, after all, it is no secret that broth made from grilled meat should be better than un-grilled one, right? ♥
UPDATE: One of my dear reader, Alex, reported back that you can replicate the famous sop buntut bakar at home like these:
- Cook the soup following the recipe.
- Right before serving, heat up your grill and grill the oxtails so the fat crisp up.
- Then return the grilled oxtails to the soup and serve as usual.
Originally published on January 7, 2014. Updated on January 6, 2020 with new photos.
Sop Buntut - Oxtail Soup
4.9 from 12 reviews
Author: Anita Jacobson
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 mins
Total Time: 4 hours
- 1 kilogram (2 lb) oxtail (Indonesian: buntut sapi)
- 2 1/2 liter (10 cup) water
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 cinnamon stick (Indonesian: kayu manis)
- 5 cloves (Indonesian: cengkeh)
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg (Indonesian: bubuk pala)
- 250 gram (1/2 lb) carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
- 250 gram (1/2 lb) potato, peeled and cut into 8 wedges per potato
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Grind the following into spice paste
- 100 gram (3.5 oz) shallots (Indonesian: bawang merah)
- 5 cloves garlic (Indonesian: bawang putih)
- 1 inch ginger (Indonesian: jahe)
- 1/2 large onion (150 gram/5 oz) (Indonesian: bawang bombay)
- Garnish and accompaniments
- 1 tomato (Indonesian: tomat), cut into small slices
- 1 scallion (Indonesian: daun bawang), thinly sliced
- 2 Chinese celery (Indonesian: daun seledri), thinly sliced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- deep-fried shallot flakes (Indonesian: bawang merah goreng)
- Chili sauce (mixed the following)
- 4 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
- 4 bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit), seeded and thinly sliced
- Boil oxtails and water in a soup pot, then simmer until the meat is tender. This usually takes about 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker, you can reduce the cooking time considerably to a mere 30 minutes. Remove oxtails from the stock and set aside. Strain the stock to get a clear broth. Return the broth and oxtails back to the pot.
- In a frying pan, heat oil and sauté spice paste, cinnamon stick, cloves, and nutmeg until fragrant. About 5 minutes. Add this to the pot with broth and oxtails.
- Bring the oxtail and broth back to a boil. Add carrot and potato and season with salt, sugar, and ground white pepper. Reduce heat and cook until carrot and potato are cooked and tender, but still quite firm. About 20 minutes. Adjust salt and sugar as needed.
- Turn off heat, serve the soup with slices of tomato, scallion, and Chinese celery. Sprinkle the soup with some deep-fried shallot flakes. The soup is best eaten when still piping hot with a bowl of steamed white rice accompanied with the chili sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.