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Sop Buntut - Oxtail Soup
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?
For the soup, you will need oxtail, carrot, potatoes, shallots, garlic, onion, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, salt, sugar, and white pepper.
For the accompaniments, you will need tomatoes, scallions (Indonesian: daun bawang), Chinese celery (Indonesian: daun seledri), lime juice (Indonesian: air jeruk nipis), and fried shallot (Indonesian: bawang goreng).
And don’t forget the chili sauce, which is a simple mixture of bird-eye chilies (Indonesian: cabe rawit) and 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.
Sop Buntut - Oxtail Soup
- 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.
Thank you Anita, I have been looking for a good recipe for this for a while. My Partner Freya and I were in Jakarta a few years ago and I have fond memories of this soup. I will try grilling the meat next time I make it also.
Konrad Markham says:
Hi Anita, Thanks for the recipe. I tried the oxtail grilled and yes it is very tasty. My only comment on the recipe is that simmering the oxtails in water, needs a lot longer than 30 minutes. Yes you do clarify and say until cooked but it's still much longer than that. Look forward to trying some of the other recipes.
Sounds tasty...It has been over ten years ago the lasttime I ate this soup..Many Thanks Anita!
Thank you for the recipe, Anita. It's a wonderful recipe - absolutely delicious! Like Konrad, I found the Oxtail took much longer than 30 minutes. I had it cooking for over three hours before it was tender and falling of the bone
Hi Brandon, thank you for the feedback. I am going to update the recipe to reflect the more correct cooking time then :)
Michelle gremio says:
Hi if i want to fried the oxtail how long should i boil it? Thank you so much
Hi Michelle, what we do is usually boiling/simmering as per usual until the oxtails are tender. Then, we remove the oxtails from the soup and use a frying pan and some oil to sear/fry the cooked oxtails to give the surface a nice char. The searing/frying part should only take about 2-3 minutes.
Michelle Gremio says:
Thank you so much!!! Everytime we have guest I cook this soup buntut 😊😘
thank you for your wonderful recipe! I am in indonesia right now and cooked sop buntut with your recipe for my indonesian fiance, here and there a few changes but anyway. he prefers this one over the ones you can buy and he also said tht if his mom and grandma were still alive after this dish I would have already passed as their daughter in law <3
Such a sweet story. Best of luck for the both of you :)
WE Lived in Jakarta for two years and I first had sop bun tut at SAte Tomang (restaurant) and had it repeatedly till we returned to USA. I now ,make it in a similar fashion and it's always good! I loved j.akarta (and Indonesia's) after I. Got use to t.he turmoil and confusion (my confusion). People were patient with my Use of the language...sorry.
Haha, life in Jakarta is indeed way more chaotic compared to the States. I am happy you like the sop buntut recipe.
you should try Oxtail soup at Bogor Cafe - Borobudur Hotel. The best Oxtail Soup ever.... and also the priciest... :P
Absolutely correct ...I go there every time I visit my wife’s family in jakarta . I eat once the Sup Buntut and another time , Nasi Goreng Buntut ....incredible delicious !!
Thanks for the recipe! I tried this with pork, arjust the herbs (lots of ginger and white pepper) and simmer for a few hours; the taste is fantastic! Remind me of home x
Such a creative idea! We Indonesian will probably never tried that in a million years since it has always been oxtail and oxtail only for making this soup :)
I've never tried sop buntut before, though my hubs rave about how he will ALWAYS have it when he goes Jakarta. So tried your recipe today and my hubs said it turned out really good! So flavourful and appetizing like he had it in Jakarta. Thanks!
You hubby sounds a bit like me then. Whenever I return home to Jakarta, I am armed with a long list of my favorite food that I simply must eat before my flight back to US, haha. :D
Hi Anita, thank you for the wonderful recipe. This became a staple food at my home as my hubby loves sop buntut. I usually made this in a larger quanity, I also used a pressure cooker (around 30-35 mins), then I stored them in little containers and put them in the freezer. So whenever we crave for buntut, just take it out from the freezer!
Haha, I also love making double or even triple batches and freeze extra cause everyone loves this soup :)
I wish I had all the time in the world to try each and every single one of your recipes... the lack of time has made me return to old favourites again and again, but there's so many things I'd love to try! Thank you for demistifying Indo food! - and the Japanese & Chinese style as well!
You are welcome Ags. And I hope you will have time to try a couple more recipes ;)
Boyd Kobe says:
mmm…this looks incredibly delicious!!! My family would love it.
Wow just finished cook and tested. It is just delicious . Never cook this soup before, just the picture looks so good and need to try it. I am successful Oalaaaa... thank you so much for your recipe
You are welcome Ivana. I am happy you gave my recipe a try and find out that you love it. :)
Kelly Down says:
Thanks for your recipe. I did not want to use a packaged "Sop Buntut" mix, so I found your recipe and all is good. We live in Indonesia and my maid didn't know the ingredients for Sop Buntut. Go figure? now she knows very well and thanks to you. Best regards, Kelly Down
Yay, now you can have sop buntut whenever you want, Kelly. :) As for your maid not knowing sop buntut recipe, I think it's because even for Indonesians, the soup is a special treat that most go to a restaurant for. So most don't learn how to make this at home.
kelly Down says:
Hi Anita, also FYI Americans need to speed things up so I used a pressure cooker for the Ox tails for about 40 mins. then the rest of the process was as per your great directions. tks. Kelly
Thanks for the tips to cook with a pressure cooker, Kelly! I think I am forever traumatized to use a pressure cooker since it once exploded so dramatically when my Mom used it, lid stuck on our kitchen ceiling, content (soup) erupted and spilled everywhere, and our neighbors thought someone opened a shot or we had a gas tank exploded or something, LOL.
Great recipe. Very straightforward compared to some of the other ones out there. For anyone who got here like I did by searching "sop buntut grilled" I'll just note that it does work well with the variation Anita suggests (grilling the oxtail first). Although what I've actually gotten into even more is grilling the oxtail at the end. Cook the soup as normal, but just before serving, remove the oxtail and grill it. The fat crisps up and stays crisp this way, and I don't find you lose that much of the grilled flavor in the broth, or at least you don't miss it.
Thanks for sharing your grilling tips, Alex. I'll be sure to pick up some oxtail next time I visit my local Asian grocery store and make the soup following your suggestion. :)
I made this recipe last week in the pressure cooker, forgot to add nutmeg and forgot to add the seasonings while boiling the veggies. Husband said something was off. Made it again while following the steps exactly. He said it tasted perfect and loved it. Never seen him so excited to eat my cooking.
This made me smile. Thanks for sharing your experience, Annie. :)
This is a great recipe. So flavorful and delicious.
This is one of my favorite soups on a cold day! I love the hearty chunks and warm spices. Yum!
Tawnie K Kroll says:
This was my first time having oxtail, thank you!
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says:
What a tasty looking soup! I'll definitely have to try it if I ever visit Indonesia but I am tempted to give your recipe a try too!
Definitely come and visit if you have the chance, Bintu. And don't forget to bring the stretchy/eating pants. ;)
Jas @ All that's Jas says:
All good, hearty soups take hours to make, but they're so worth it! I could eat this every day.
Haha, so true. But if you have a pressure cooker, the first step could be done in 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. :D
Ni Luh Nina says:
Hi Anita, terima kasih untuk resepnya..,resep dan prosedurnya simple. Sangat membantu untuk saya yang baru benar2 harus ngedapur 6 bulan ini setelah asisten yang 9 tahun bersama kami pulang kampung. Tidak pernah saya bayangkan sebelumnya bisa masak makanan canggih seperti ini...thanks to you...ur recipe has made an instant chef out of me. 😃
Hi Anita, I want to try this recipe using slow cooker. Do I have to boil on the stove first for 2 hours to get rid of the impurities and then put in slow cooker or I just can dump it to slow cooker right away? Thank you.
Hi Nelsi, you can boil a pot of water, then add oxtails. After several minutes of boiling, you should start seeing all the impurities float to the top. Use a fine-mesh strainer to scoop out as much of the floating impurities as you can, and let the oxtails boil for another minute to make sure there aren't much of the impurities left. Drain, and then you should be able to cook it in a slow cooker and get a clear soup.
Chris Collins says:
I absolutely LOVE Ox tail soup and your version looks absolutely delicious!!
Lisa | Garlic & Zest says:
I've had Caribbean oxtail soup, but never Indonesian -- definitely want to try this version because the flavors sound amazing. Thanks for sharing!
Kelly Anthony says:
I have never had sop buntut (oxtail soup) but it sounds like the perfect comfort meal.
Patty at Spoonabilities says:
This soup looks absolutely delicious and so hearty & comforting. Definitely going to give it a try soon!
I really love how flavorful this is! A huge hit at my house!
I always have my maid/ pembantu to cook yummy indo food back in Jakarta, now i live in Netherland and dont have pembantu, i miss sop buntut the most is my maid speciality. I tried your recipe Anita, its amazing! Thanks a bunch!!
Thank you Anita! I cooked this in slow cooker and it was delicious. My husband and my children love it! This reminds me of home as well.
I'm also interested in the slow cooker version! How long do you cook them in it (high vs low heat)? thank you so much!
Hi Em, it should be about 7-8 hours on low heat, and about 3-4 hours on high heat.
Hi Anita, can I use beef ribs (with bone) to replace oxtails? It's not easy to find oxtails in my area. Thank you, Syarifa
Hi Syarifa, I think that is be a great idea. :)
Hi Anita, I’m gonna try cooking oxtail soup as per your recipe. My question is the cloves. You said that we should use 5 cloves. I can only find ground cloves here. So approximately how many teaspoon is 5 cloves?
Hi Alyssa, 5 whole cloves is about the amount of 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves.
We lived in Jakarta for 7 1/2 years, and Sop Buntut was always one of my favourite dishes (after beef Rendang which was my all time favourite!). I made this today following your recipe. The only thing different was I used veal osso bucco in place of oxtail. It was on sale and what I had available, plus it looks a bit like oxtail. We live in Thailand, so we pretty much had everything else needed. It turned out absolutely delicious. Terima kasih banyak.
David Green says:
Crazy how much oxtail costs at the grocery store! When I was a kid it was a cheap product for people without much income...sekarang it's a high-end item!. Rasanya memang enak sekali.
Thank you for this recipe, Anita. It's lovely and not difficult to make. I've made it many times for my family. Substituted oxtail with beef shin. Less fatty and has some tendon, giving it a nice texture. It has become a family favourite. ❤️
Thanks for this recipe, it turned out great, just like I used to get in Jakarta.
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