Warm hearty Hong Kong style Borscht (oxtail soup) with oxtail and stew beef, onion, celery, carrot, tomatoes, potatoes, and cabbage.
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. Since our birthdays are just one week apart, we used to go to a nice restaurant in San Francisco to celebrate our birthdays together. After our children were born, we started a new tradition: he prepares my birthday dinner, and a week later I prepare his birthday dinner and we celebrate together with our children.
This year my husband cooked Thomas Keller’s Pork Tenderloin, and I cooked his favorite soup, Hong Kong Style Borscht, as per his request.
You might wonder and ask me what the “Hong Kong Style” means. According to my husband, this is Chinese style (precisely Hong Kong style cafe’s) Borscht soup. The original Ukrainian Borscht soup uses beetroot as a main ingredient while tomato is the main ingredient for the Hong Kong style.
This soup is my husband’s favorite because his mom used to make it. Besides his mom’s version, it also reminded him of the late night Hong Kong cafe meals during college since the soup was served complementary with most meals. As soon as I became his wife, he asked me if I can make Borscht soup. He was asking me who grew up drinking mostly miso soup! Well I had no idea how to make it and I kept ignoring his wishes for the past few years.
My husband probably got fed up with me ignoring his request so one day he came to me with a recipe in one hand and asked me to make it. I thought I should give it a try and I made the soup. I wasn’t much of a fan of oxtail before this soup but I added because his mom always included oxtail. Oh boy, I’m so glad I did because it adds wonderful flavor! The fatty goodness from the oxtail blends in the soup and provides some yummy grease in a predominately vegetable soup.
So that’s the story of my husband’s favorite soup. One time we invited my brother-in-law for having this soup and he really loved it as well. I was happy I could re-create their mom’s favorite soup from their childhood memory. I hope you enjoy this soup because I also fell in love with this soup and so did my children. It’s a family favorite now. Have a great week!
Use Pressure Cooker for this Recipe
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- 1.2 lb. (4-5 pieces) oxtails
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1.2 lb. stew beef, pat dried
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium onions, cut into slices
- 7 celery stalks, chopped into small pieces
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
- ¼ (3 cups) large cabbage, chopped
- 8 cups (2 L) beef broth
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. salt
- Soak the oxtail in cold water for 1 hour and discard the water. Place it in a large pot of water, bring to boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. By soaking and blanching the oxtail before cooking, any blood and impurities are removed. Drain and rinse under cold water to remove foam and scum. Set aside.
- In a cast iron skillet (or frying pan), heat oil over high heat and sear the surface of the stew beef. This will enhance the savory flavor. Set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottom pot (you will need a 6 ¾ to 8 quart pot), heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion and celery until they are soft.
- Add the stew beef, carrot, cabbage, tomatoes, beef broth, and tomato paste and bring it to a boil.
- Add the oxtails. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. During this time, skim off the scum and fat on the soup’s surface. This step can be tedious but it’s the key for clean taste when you drink the soup.
- Add Seasonings A and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for at least 3 hours, or until meat comes off from oxtail bones and becomes tender (and I usually cook extra 2 hrs on low heat).
- Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
- Stir in Seasonings B and mix well. Ladle the soup to individual bowls.