Jinhee’s Corner – Oxtail Soup – Eating Seasonally, Exploring Locally

Don’t you just love autumn?! The leaves are changing, the air is crisp. But with changing seasons comes some funky weather. These days in New York City, you could get whiplash from the daily forecasts! One day you’re running to work and find yourself under-dressed in a cold breeze. The next day, you’re sweating because you brought a jacket in preparation for the cold breeze, but it’s 15 degrees warmer that day.

Unfortunately, this back and forth weather makes us susceptible to colds and flus. Prevention is best, so in addition to washing my hands and upping my vitamin C intake, I have oxtail soup more often as we move into the cooler months of the year. Oxtail soup, like any bone broth, is a nourishing blood builder that will boost immunity, too. It’s one of the most common foods I recommend as “medicine” to my patients. And it’s the perfect comfort food in the cooler weather.

In addition to building the blood, I recommend this soup to patients with joint pain or ligament and tendon problems because the nutrients will help lubricate joints and moisten cartilage. Patients with digestive issues like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis will benefit because the method of slow cooking oxtail soup makes its intestines-soothing nutrients more available. I also recommend it to my infertility patients because oxtail soup benefits the kidneys in Chinese medicine, which is the root of our fertility.

I know some people are initially turned off when they hear ox tail, but it’s truly delicious and easy to make! Boiling the bones for hours results in a soup rich with minerals and collagen from the cartilage and tendons. (Side note – collagen is great for keeping our skin looking toned and supple!) The best part is that it’s so easily digested in this form, the long hours of boiling breakdown all these great components making it easy on your digestion. I rarely even eat the meat since all the good stuff is in the soup, and after skimming off the fat, it’s virtually fat free.

Below is my easy peasy, don’t measure anything recipe but you can always try it at Gahm Mi Oak, 43 West 32nd Street, right down the block from the clinic. Oxtail soup is all they serve so you know it’s gotta be good!

Jinhee’s Oxtail Soup

Oxtails (you can substitute leg bones or knees, even osso bucco)
4-6 quarts of water (enough to keep bones covered)
Salt, pepper and scallions after cooking, to taste.

In Korea, the soup will be made and eaten for days. The same set of bones will be boiled with fresh water a few times until the soup no longer stays milky white.

  1. Rinse bones in cold water.
  2. Put in a pot with water and boil. Some people add a 1/4c of cider vinegar to help release extra calcium from the bones. You don’t taste the vinegar after cooking. It’s totally optional.
  3. After the first hour, reduce heat to a simmer and start skimming the scum from the top. Repeat every hour or so.
  4. Add water if it’s reducing too much. There is no correct amount of water or bones, so just eyeball it. You should start seeing the broth turn a milky white color around hour 2.
  5. After the first few hours of boiling, cool the soup to make skimming the fat off the top easier. It will be quite easy to do at this point. You will also notice that when cold, the soup turns into a solid because of all the gelatin.
  6. Boil again with more water if necessary.
  7. Serve with salt, pepper and sliced scallions. Seasoning is traditionally done at the table. Don’t forget the bowl of rice.

Just like in Korea, I make a big pot and eat it for days. When I start to get bored, I mix it up by adding garlic, onions or a mix of other vegetables when I reheat. You can also try adding sesame oil and dark soy sauce.

Notes: if you don’t eat red meat, you can use chicken bones (break the bones to expose the marrow) or fish bones and heads. If you don’t eat any animal products at all, try Dylan’s vegetarian “bone” broth.

I feel the same way at the end of every summer – I can’t believe it’s already over. And even worse, NYC is notorious for playing with our emotions at the start of Autumn. I already had my surprise one cold morning . The the next day I was sweating in my jacket. All of this irregular weather contributes to cold season. A great way to be ready for anything is to carry a scarf or shawl.

For now, stay warm, get enough sleep, wash those hands religiously, and eat nourishing foods.

All the best to you and yours,


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One Response to “Jinhee’s Corner – Oxtail Soup – Eating Seasonally, Exploring Locally”

  1. Margaret HelonOctober 16, 2014 at 01:27#

    Thank you Jinhee!!
    You are amazing and inspirational! Thanks for sharing your truly wise and healthy tips! Going to try that oxtail soup soon! Reminds me of childhood!