Hawaiian Oxtail Soup

Hawaiian oxtail soup with oxtails, slowly cooked to produce their own broth, with ginger, anise, orange peel, peanuts, chili, mustard greens, onions, and cilantro.

Hawaiian Oxtail Soup
Elise Bauer

Oxtails! My oh my how I love thee.

We grew up with oxtail stew, a deeply rich, hearty stew perfect for cold days. You don't find them that often in the market, so when they appear I'll usually pick up a few pounds.

The oxtail is the tail of a steer, usually cut into segments. It is a flavorful, tough cut, perfect for slow braising in stews or soups, well marbled with fat, and here's the best part, the bones have a ton of collagen, so good for making a gelatinous stock.

Bowl of oxtail soup
Elise Bauer

Oxtail soup is served all over Hawaii. Unlike the thick and hearty stew I grew up with, the Hawaiian soup is relatively light (a blessing post holidays), with a thin broth and seasonings from ginger, star anise, orange, green onions, and cilantro.

Peanuts make an appearance too. What a combination! The flavors just sparkle.

By the way, although oxtails are often hard to find at regular markets, Costco often carries them.

Hawaiian Oxtail Soup

Cook Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Servings 4 servings

An odd ingredient, one that isn't readily accessible in the stores around here at least, is dried orange peel. (Apparently you can buy it pretty easily in Hawaii.)

What I did for this ingredient is I used a vegetable peeler to strip off a long strip of peel (just the zest) from an orange. This I set on a shelf in my kitchen for a week to dry out. It worked great!

I wondered why one would use the dried and not fresh orange peel and I think perhaps it's because of the long cook time; maybe the dried peel holds up better to long cooking?

If I didn't think ahead to dry the peel, I would just use a couple teaspoons of orange zest instead.


  • 2 pounds oxtails

  • 1 strip dried orange peel (zest, not the pith), see recipe note

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

  • Salt, at least 1 tablespoon, more to taste

  • 1/2 cup shelled and skinned raw peanuts (can sub roasted unsalted peanuts)

  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or more to taste)

  • A handful of fresh mustard greens, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups, loosely packed)


  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

  • Green onions, white and green parts, sliced on diagonal

  • Freshly grated ginger


  1. Parboil the oxtails, trim of excess fat:

    Bring a large pot (5-quart), half filled with water, to a boil. Add the oxtails. Parboil for 30 minutes. Drain the pot. Rinse the oxtails in water. Trim the oxtails of any excess fat.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  2. Simmer oxtails in water with seasonings for 1 hour:

    Return the oxtails to the pot. Cover with water by an inch. Add the orange peel, star anise, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for one hour.

    Elise Bauer
  3. Add peanuts, simmer 2-3 more hours:

    Add the peanuts and simmer for 2-3 more hours, until the oxtail meat is tender and falling off the bone.

  4. Skim fat:

    At the point, you can either skim the fat off the soup and proceed to the next step, or let the soup cool, and chill it overnight in the refrigerator. The next day the fat will have solidified and will be easy to pull up from the top of the soup.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    The flavors will also have had more of a chance to blend and be absorbed by the oxtails if you let the soup sit overnight.

  5. Add chili pepper flakes, mustard greens:

    Bring soup to a simmer. Add the chili pepper flakes and mustard greens. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until the mustard greens are tender.

    Elise Bauer
  6. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, ginger to serve:

    Serve with garnishes of chopped fresh cilantro, green onions, and freshly grated ginger.

    If you want, you can strip the meat off the bones before serving. We prefer the meat served bone-in, in which case you will want to provide a bowl for the bones.


Oxtail Stew here on Simply Recipes

Hawaiian Oxtail Soup
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
671 Calories
41g Fat
6g Carbs
67g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 671
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 53%
Saturated Fat 14g 69%
Cholesterol 209mg 70%
Sodium 1724mg 75%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 67g
Vitamin C 23mg 115%
Calcium 103mg 8%
Iron 5mg 30%
Potassium 1046mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.