A really warming traditional winter soup with added dumplings, so thereâs no need for bread.
- 1 whole oxtail (around 1.3kg/3lb), cut into chunky pieces
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and diced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 300ml/10fl oz red wine
- 2 litres/3Â½ pints beef stock, made with 2 beef stock cubes
- 2 tbsp tomato purÃ©e
- 2 tbsp cream sherry
- 2 tbsp yeast extract, such as Marmite
- For the mini parsley dumplings
- Preheat the oven to 170C/3140F/Gas 3-4.
- Wash the oxtail pieces and pat dry with kitchen paper. Trim off as much excess fat as possible. Put the flour in a strong plastic food bag and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drop half of the oxtail pieces into the seasoned flour and shake to coat. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining oxtail pieces.
- Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Brown the oxtail pieces over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until deeply coloured, turning every now and then. You may need to add extra oil or cook the beef in batches depending on the size of your pan. Put the oxtail pieces in a large, flame-proof casserole.
- Return the frying pan to the hob and add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery, with a little extra oil if necessary. Cook gently for 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- Tip the vegetables on top of the beef and add the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the wine, beef stock and tomato purÃ©e. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the casserole with a lid and cook in the centre of the oven for three hours, stirring and turning the oxtail pieces halfway through the cooking time until the meat is falling off the bones.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and transfer the oxtail pieces to a board. Leave to cool slightly. Skim off the fat from the soup that will have pooled on the surface and discard. Pull the meat off the bones and discard any gristly bits. Cut the beef into small chunks and return to the casserole. Stir in the sherry and yeast extract.
- To make the dumplings, mix the flour, suet, parsley and salt in a large bowl. Stir in enough water to mix to a soft, spongy dough.
- Roll the dough into 18 small balls and put to one side. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Add plenty of seasoning and drop the dumplings gently on top of the soup. Cover tightly with a lid and simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until the dumplings are well-risen and fluffy. Ladle the soup into deep bowls to serve.