This recipe has evolved over the years from an old “Joy of Cooking” version. Better, easier and more healthy.
Begin by browning 3-4 pounds of thawed Oxtail or Soup Bones (pictured) in a skillet w/lard or tallow. Rotate each piece at least twice until browned on meaty surfaces. Transfer to a 5 quart lidded pot , fill to cover w/water and add peppercorns (10-20 each), bay leaves (3-4), and salt( 1-2 tsp). While pot is heating , saute until translucent/beginning to caramelize 1-2 cups coarsely chopped onion. Add onion to pot, bring to simmer, cover and stew for 4 hours. You can either remove bones at this point or leave them in. Meat should separate easily from bone.
When stewing time is up add 1/3 cup quick or medium pearled barley, 16 oz stewed or crushed tomatoes (or 2T tomato paste if you prefer a thicker, more sauce-like broth), 1-2 cups coarsely chopped red cabbage, 3 sliced carrots, 1-2 T dried parsley, and 1 tsp each marjoram, thyme,basil and sage. Bring to a low boil and cook uncovered another 30 minutes or until reduced to desired consistency. Serve w/ course salt and pepper and a good sourdough.