Recipe: Orange-Scented Beef Soup

I apologize in advance for fawning over one of my own recipes, but damn, this is good.

When I set out, I had a pile of beefy, boney cuts that were on special at the store (shanks and oxtails) and I knew I would make some broth. But then I just followed my tummy and this is what it told me it wanted: beef, orange, and warm spices. Granted, this is similar in style to my favorite Pho recipe, but after a fruitless search for that combo of flavors, I broke trail on my own.

I’m gonna level with you: there is no commercially available beef broth that will come close to the flavor of homemade. When it comes to chicken broth, I’m okay with Imagine brand’s organic/free-range broth in a pinch. But if you look closely at beef broth packages, they often say “Beef Flavored Broth.” Which makes me wonder, if it ain’t beef broth, then what the hell is it? And the one brand I could find with apparently real beef broth (Pacific brand) has weird stuff on the ingredient list, like caramel coloring. Beef bones are cheap and even the laziest cook can toss some with water in a pot and cook it all day. Then freeze it and keep it around for recipes such as these.

If you already have some beef broth on hand, please check the notes at the bottom of the recipe for a simplified option. Otherwise, be sure to plan ahead. I started the broth at 11am and made the soup at 4pm so it would be ready for dinner. Despite the time required, it’s actually pretty simple and most of the time is hands-off. I went for a jog while the broth was simmering.

Orange-Scented Beef Soup

1 beef shank (about 1 lb.)

1 package beef oxtail (about 2 lbs.)

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped into sections

2 celery stalks, chopped into sections

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

5-6 button mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole star anise

7-8 whole cloves

1 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos

salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste

Garnishes: fresh spinach, cilantro, green onions

1) Make broth. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place beef shank and tail sections in a large bowl. S&P generously, then toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Place on foil- or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place onion, carrot, and celery in bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Tuck veggies around pieces of beef on sheet and pop in oven for 30 minutes. When done, heat remaining Tbsp. olive oil in a large stockpot and sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes.  Dump everything from the baking sheet into the pot and fill with water just to cover (about 3-4 quarts). Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for at least 4 hours.

2) When ready to make soup, remove all beef pieces and allow to cool briefly. Shred beef, discarding bones. Pour broth through a metal strainer into a heatproof container, discarding solids. Add shredded beef back to pot and add broth to your desired consistency (you’ll probably have some broth left over). Add remaining ingredients (mushrooms through S&P) and simmer over medium-low heat for one hour.

3) Discard star anise, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Using your hands, rip spinach and cilantro into course shreds and place in bottom of each bowl. Pour soup on top, and garnish with onions.

Serves 4-6.

NOTES: If you already have some beef broth, I suggest using a chuck roast cut up into bite-size pieces. Brown the meat in oil first, then jump into the recipe at step #2. I would simmer the soup for at least 3 hours, checking the meat for tenderness. A great slow-cooker option.


One Response to “Recipe: Orange-Scented Beef Soup”

  1. Thanks monkey. Looks great. There is something very satisfying about Vietnamese soups. They are like blinders to the world while your face is in the bowl.

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