Beef Bone Soup (Sup Tulang)



There was a sudden cold spell here in Athens recently. Although, cold for me means anything that goes below 10 degrees, and it did fall to about 8 degrees at night. I always crave for a hot bowl of noodle soup whenever it gets cold, and I was lucky to have bought some beef on the bone from the butchers recently. I used a mix of oxtail cuts, and also some ribs (plate ribs, I think they are called). This rib cut is very meaty and cooks wonderfully in a soup or a stew. Ask your butcher for meat that will make great soup – they are very knowledgeable and I have never been disappointed with the ones my butcher recommends.


Cook the meat gently on medium low heat, for more than 3 hours (I aim for about 4 – 5 hours so the meat slightly falls off the bone). Occasionally (every hour, approximately) I skim and remove the ‘scum’ that appears on the surface of the soup liquid, and add more hot water to make sure that the meat is covered with liquid. Another trick I learnt from my science-savvy husband is to lightly toss and coat the meat with a little bit of vinegar and then rinsing it off just before boiling.

This soup is usually served on the side of a meal that has rice and other dishes. Makmah (from this post here!) makes a great beef soup dish that we always love to have when we go to my grandma’s house in Ampang. Alternatively, I occasionally use this as a soup broth base for noodles! (or zoodles in this case.)

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 1-1.5kg of beef bone (ox tail, plate ribs, etc.)bonesoup03
  • approx. 2 litres of water – enough to cover the meat in the pot (to start, make sure you have some more in your kettle)

Spices for the pot:bonesoup04

  • 4 medium-sized cloves of garlic, lightly bruised
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger, bruised
  • 1 star anise
  • 6 cardamoms
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp of fennel
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp of sea salt

Assemble the soup:

  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tbsps of light soya sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters


  • a handful of Celery leaves/Chinese celery, finely choppedbonesoup05
  • crispy fried shallots ( I sliced a few shallots and fried them in oil until they turn crispy and brown. Alternatively, you can buy them from Asian stores)


  1. Bring to the boil the beef bones, water and the spice ingredients. Simmer on medium low (gently does it!) for more than 3 hours, or until the meat is tender. Add more water when needed, and skim off the layer of weird bubbly scum that appears on the surface of soup liquid.
  2. Once the meat is soft and tender, gently remove the meat from the stock and keep warm.
  3. Sieve the soup to remove the spices. This makes the soup broth clear.
  4. In a pot, heat the olive oil and gently fry the sliced onions until slightly golden brown and fragrant.
  5. Add the beef bones, the potatoes, the soup stock, 2 tbsps of soya sauce and taste before adding the extra 1 tbsp of soya sauce and season with salt and pepper if you think it requires more seasoning.
  6. Bring it back to a gentle boil. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove from heat.
  7. Serve in a bowl while still hot, and garnish with the chopped celery and fried shallots. Enjoy!



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