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 for us, 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 the 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 complimentary 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 a 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!
Speed Up the Cooking with a Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)!
You can make this dish in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) too!
With the help of a pressure cooker, Oxtail Soup (Hong Kong Style Borscht) can be prepared in much less time! This hearty and flavorful tomato-based soup is cooked with oxtail and stew beef, onion
Oxtail Soup - Hong Kong Style Borscht
- 1.2 lbs oxtails (4-5 pieces)
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (for searing stew beef)
- 1.2 lbs stew beef (chuck cut into bite-size cubes) (pat dry with a paper towel right before searing )
- 1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (for cooking vegetables)
- 2 onions (cut into slices)
- 7 stalks celery (chopped into small pieces)
- 2-3 carrots (peeled and cut into ½" (1.3 cm) pieces)
- 4 tomatoes (cut into wedges)
- ¼ cabbage (3 cups chopped)
- 8 cups beef stock
- 1 can tomato paste (6 oz, 120 g)
- 2 russet potatoes (peeled and cut into small cubes)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp dried basil (2 Tbsp fresh)
- 1 tsp paprika
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar (packed)
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
To Prep Oxtail
- Soak the oxtail in cold water for 1 hour, changing the water a few times. Transfer the oxtail to a large pot of water, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to remove foam and scum. Set aside. Tip: Soaking and blanching the oxtail before cooking will remove any blood and impurities.
To Sear Stew Beef
- In a large heavy-bottom pot (you will need a 6.75 to 8 QT pot), heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat and sear the surface of the stew beef. Once seared, transfer to a plate and set aside. Tip: This step will enhance the savory flavor.
To Cook Oxtail Soup
- In the same pot, heat 1 ½ Tbsp oil on medium heat and sauté onion and celery until they are tender.
- Add the seared 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. With a fine-mesh sieve, skim off the scum and foam on the soup’s surface. This step can be tedious but it’s the key to a clean taste when you drink the soup.
- Add Seasonings A and reduce heat to medium-low or low. Cover and simmer (not boiling) for at least 3-4 hours, or until meat comes off from oxtail bones and becomes tender.
- Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in Seasonings B and mix well. Ladle the soup to individual bowls. Enjoy!
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container or in the pot and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for a month. Remove the potatoes as they change the texture when frozen.