This Chinese herbal healing oxtail soup is a classic nourishing recipe based on Traditional Chinese medicine. The oxtail soup provides the full range of health benefits of the bone broth. Coupled with the use of goji berries and codonopsis root, this Chinese herbal healing oxtail soup focuses on toning and strengthening Qi. Whether you are in a process of healing or just looking for a cozy and nourishing meal, it’s a perfect recipe for the whole family in cold weather.
“Winter” in my kitchen is almost a synonym for soup, the most nourishing form of food we could feed our body, made from boiling bones, meats and vegetables. I love making healing soups, because they provide all the key nutrients that our body can absorb readily, especially important for those with compromised digestion. The gut is the core of our health. The soup that heals our gut, improves our overall health from the foundation.
There was a time in the past when I was extremely ill, depleted after child birth, bed ridden for months in debilitating pain, with a lot of digestive issues and lost a ton of weight. I visited a doctor who practised Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) multiple times a week to receive acupuncture treatments and a brown liquid potion from boiling 30+ medicinal herbs custom made for my ailments. I followed a diet based on how my body was feeling and the recommendations from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Unsurprisingly, it is very similar to the GAPS diet. All I could eat was soup and broth for a whole year, and slowly added other foods back. Besides giving me treatments, the TCM doctor also shared with me her favourite oxtail soup. I fell in love with it ever since then.
Ready to learn the secrets of this delicious, nutritious soup incorporating tonic Chinese herbs that’s also easy to make? Here is my version of this classic recipe.
Oxtail is my personal favourite cut for soup and broth, consisting of bones for minerals, tendons for gelatin and collagen, meats that’s tender not tough, with healthy amount of fat. I love that it provides well-rounded nutritions from an animal food source in a single cut, and it’s delicious.
I always recommend adding vinegar in simmering broth that contains a good amount of bones, as the vinegar helps to extract minerals. Ask your butcher to split the bones in half if you could, for more minerals to be released during cooking. The extra acidity from the vinegar won’t come across off-putting in this recipe, because it blends very well with the flavour of the tomatoes that will be added later.
Ginger is a staple in almost every healing and winter Chinese soup recipe. It’s warming to the stomach, spleen, which greatly benefits digestive health, and especially good in the cold time of the year.
There are hundreds of herbs commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to cure illness; out of which, at least a couple dozen are used in everyday soup and broth. For this recipe, we will use 2 of the most common yet wonderfully nourishing Chinese herbs, goji berry (aka. NingXia berry) and codonopsis root (aka. Dang Shen).
Goji berry is a nutrient-dense and antioxidents-rich berry eaten for it’s nutritional and medicinal values. The codonopsis root, also called the “poor man’s ginseng”, is a very important tonic that’s suitable for all body types.
Don’t get thrown off by the nickname “poor man’s ginseng”, and think it’s not a valuable medicine. Codonopsis root is similar to ginseng, however milder in strength, therefore can be consumed by the whole family including little children. The same is not true though for ginseng that is powerful but can also be harsh and harmful for certain people. Codonopsis root is much cheaper than ginseng, despite great values in toning and strengthening our Qi (energy). Codonopsis root is one of the go-to herbs used in many medicinal soups in Chinese families. Now the nickname “poor man’s ginseng” totally makes sense, doesn’t it? You really don’t have to spend much to benefit from the nourishing codonopsis root.
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In Toronto, goji berry and codonopsis root are so easy to find in every Asian market and specialty herbal shops. They really are quite common in the oriental diet. But if you don’t know what you are looking for, don’t live in an area they are available, or don’t want to leave the house, go ahead to use the following links to buy goji berry and codonopsis roots. Store the extra tightly-sealed in the fridge, they will last for years.
Don’t skip out the potatoes, tomatoes, and mushrooms in the soup. They are so tasty together with the oxtail, and you have just made a nourishing meal in one pot!
This Chinese herbal healing oxtail soup is a classic nourishing recipe based on Traditional Chinese medicine. The oxtail soup provides the full range of health benefits of the bone broth. Coupled with the use of goji berries and codonopsis root, this Chinese herbal healing oxtail soup focuses on toning and strengthening Qi. Whether you are in a process of healing or just looking for a cozy and nourishing meal, it's a perfect recipe for the whole family in cold weather.
- 1 lb oxtail pre-cut into pieces
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or replace with another mild cooking vinegar
- 2 inch ginger
- 2 whole Codonopsis Root (aka. Dang Shen), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tbsp Goji Berry (aka. NingXie berry)
- 3 potatoes
- 1-2 tomatoes
- 150 g buna-shimeji mushrooms (aka. brown beech mushrooms) or replace with another soup mushroom such as enoki
- 1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/4 cup rice wine
As long as time permits, soak the oxtail chunks for a few hours in cold water and rinse to get rid of as much blood as possible.
Submerge oxtail pieces in new water in a stock pot, bring to a boil then let it cook for a few minutes to get the inpurities out of the meat and bones. Although some prefers to skim off the foam. I highly recommend discarding this water and rinse remaining scum off the oxtail chunks. You will get a much clearer and yummier soup in the end.
Cut the ginger into thin slices.
Gently wash the codonopsis roots, then cut into 1 inch long pieces. The whole root is edible after cooked. The head of the codonopsis root (the bigger end) is the most nutritious.
Add the oxtail, sliced ginger, pieces of codonopsis root, and vinegar back to the stock pot, cover with 2 litres of clean filtered water. Vinegar helps to extract the minerals from the bones. Simmer for a minimum 6 hours. Add more water if the water runs low.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes. Cut both potatoes and tomatoes into bite size of your liking. Trim off the roots of the mushrooms.
After the broth has been simmered for at least 6 hours, add potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, rice wine, goji berries and salt to taste. I typically use around one and a half tea spoon of salt. Simmer for another hour, longer if you wish.
What is your favourite healing soup?