Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Indonesian Oxtail Soup - Sup Buntut - Sup Ekor

This rich oxtail soup is peppery with spicy aromas of
ginger, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.
It’s one of my all time favourites
and especially heart-warming in the cold winter months.


I was perhaps ten years old when I first tasted Indonesian style oxtail soup dining out with my family in Malaysia. The Ship restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, was one of the first western style restaurants in the city back in the 1970’s.

Being a theme restaurant, its entrance resembles the bow of a ship sticking out onto the street front and wait staff are dressed in maritime uniform. And after so many decades, this restaurant has retained its retro decor and expanded to a fleet of seven “ships” located all over Malaysia. A peak of its current menu, I am chuffed to see the same Indonesian oxtail soup still being served though I wonder if it still tastes as good.

I have always wanted to try and replicate this spicy and peppery oxtail soup that packs so much more oomph compared to an English style oxtail stew. But there are literally hundreds of different recipes and I wanted non other than the exact taste and flavour that I remember from so many years ago.

As Walt Disney once said, “if you can dream it, you can do it.”

Indonesian Oxtail Soup 

Ingredients for Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Ingredients for Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Fresh oxtail is usually available in supermarkets and local butchers at the start of autumn. It is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat at $8.99 per kilogram.

In Malaysia, oxtail soup is called sup ekor by street food hawkers where “ekor” means tail in Bahasa. This makes more sense to me than it being called sup buntut in Indonesia because “buntut” in Bahasa refers to the posterior of one’s body.

These two Bahasa terms might be interchangeable if you happen to be in Indonesia but you might get a weird reception from local street hawkers if you request for sup buntut in Kuala Lumpur.

Sear meat in pot

Important step ~ Sear meat in pot

I use only a small amount of oil in a cast iron pot to sear and brown the oxtail.

This step allows the fat to render and the brown layer of caramelization at the bottom of the pot becomes intense with beefy goodness when deglazed with a ladle of beef stock. It also adds to the rich dark brown colour when the soup is ready to be served.

Use hand blender to process vegetables to a smooth, creamy puree

Use hand blender to process vegetables to a smooth, creamy puree

There are essentially two styles of Indonesian oxtail soup.

More commonly cooked in households is the light and clear style with oxtail and chunky pieces of tomato, carrot and potato.

This recipe is a thick and creamy style where aromatic vegetables like onions and ginger together with carrots, tomatoes and potato are processed with a hand blender until it becomes a smooth puree. This thick puree is then combined with broth from simmering the oxtail for a creamy soup with intense beef flavours. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise give this soup its distinctive aromatics.

The Recipe 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The creamy style is better suited for the cooler months of autumn and winter while I prefer the clear broth style during spring and summer.

Falling off the bonem ~ Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Falling off the bonem ~ Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Texture test ~ When cooking, the oxtail meat needs to be gently simmered until they are falling off the bone.

Ultimate seal of approval

Ultimate seal of approval

And your guests need to return a bowl like this – only bones and knuckle caps remaining as the ultimate seal of approval.

Indonesian Oxtail Soup

Indonesian Oxtail Soup

This rich and gritty Indonesian oxtail soup brings fond memories to me.

Enjoy and happy cooking!

So dear readers, which style of Indonesian oxtail soup do you prefer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

This entry was posted in Recipes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Indonesian Oxtail Soup

  1. Oh, yes, please – delicious – as soon as I saw the title of this post I knew I would love it!

  2. I have never had Indonesian oxtail soup. The last time I had it I was in New York City and I don’t think there was any mention of Indonesia. Yours looks better than what I remember and I’m sure it tasted better too. Great photos!

  3. DEAR ChopinandMysaucepan – I am all for thick and creamy over clear soups any day which is a classic reflection of the style of cooking I love. I must admit I usually reserve oxtails for Pho stock and have never used it as the star ingredient and seeing this makes me realise how narrow minded I have been. I must also admit that my #2 use of oxtail is as treats for my dog.

    That will be changing. :)

  4. Hotly Spiced says:

    What a beautiful looking soup. I have heard of ox-tail soup but never an Indonesian version. This looks like a complete meal. I love the look of all the leftover bones – plenty of flavour in this soup obviously xx

  5. irene says:

    I’m so used to the clear soup of Indonesian sop ekor (or sop buntut as we call it), but this one looks absolutely amazing and appetizing! If you ever need someone to test taste your creation, count me in!!

  6. Looks so heartwarming and it’s perfect for the cold days!

  7. Raymund says:

    Bookmarking this, I honestly love this recipe. Right up my alley, that rich broth with that ox tail, one of my favourite meat parts.

  8. I love sop buntut! Definitely a clear soup fan. Will have to try and make this one day!

  9. Row says:

    I’ve never tried Indonesian oxtail soup… this looks very hearty and downright fabulous! :)

  10. The moment I saw the picture it was mouthwatering, I really want to cook this. Will try it this weekend.

  11. Jim Bryan says:

    I was in the Ship on Bukit Bintang just the the other day. The oxtail soup is still great. I’ll have to try your recipe for sure.

    • Chopinand says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your input.

      It has been a long time since I tried the oxtail soup at The Ship. Many years ago, I tried the same Indonesian style oxtail soup at Victoria Station which is another local steak house in KL and it was pretty good. Best thing about cooking this at home is you can adjust the flavour according to your liking and I prefer the soup to peppery for that spice hit. Happy cooking!

Comments are closed.