HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Beef stock

I spent the entire day making beef stock with oxtails and beef shanks and it smelled heavenly. So, today, I made vegetable soup with some of the stock and the end result was bland - none of the wonderful flavor one would expect. What am I doing wrong and why the bland soup? Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Did you make the stock with vegetables, aromatics or spices?
    Did you brown the beef in the oven before putting them into the stock pot?

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      Wow, all of you really rock. Did roast the meat and vegs at 425 for 40 mins. Had the usual vegs: carrots, celery, onion, and a bouqet garni from the garden. The stock did gel in the fridge big time. Did not salt the stock but did the soup. I made Paula Deen's veg soup a few weeks ago which started with chuck roast and added beef granules (with MSG) and it was delicious.
      And you're right about the price of shanks and even oxtails (which are a little creepy if you think about it). I will look for beef soup bones next time and report back. Thanks for all the input.

    2. Check the ratio of water to ingredients for concentrated flavor.
      I pack the vessel with meat, bones and aromatics tightly, then add water to barely cover.
      Too much water and the stock will be bland and will not gel.

      If you think the stock is too watery, it can be reduced by one third on a burner.

      1. Did you salt the stock or the soup enough?

        1. How stiff was the cold stock? If well gelled, then you got a lot of gelatin from the beef, and with it a lot of beef flavor. But -- you still need to salt it well to make the kind of soup that you are used to.

          2 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            I have to disagree with the idea that gelatin = flavor. Bones give you gelatin and its unctuosness, but meat gives you flavor. I wouldn't judge the potential flavorfulness of a stock by it's gelling power. In the OP's case, the oxtails should've provided plenty of gelatin, but with meaty cuts like those, the broth should taste good even if it doesn't gel very hard in the fridge. Assuming that is that it's not just too watery. The OP can salt a small amount and taste it before cooking it down further, if it turns out that's what seems to be the problem.

            1. re: MikeG

              When it comes to beef stock I'm more of a foot person.

              Gelatin may not be a perfect measure of flavor, but it is visual measure, and independent of salt (and msg).

              Seems that I've seen beef stock recipes that call for simmering ground beef in the stock during a second or third stage, to add more 'beefiness'.

          2. I pile the bones, with a little meat still on them, quartered carrots and celery stalks (with leaves) and a chunked up onion on a half jelly roll pan and roast at 450 until good and brown. Then put them in stockpot with several sprigs of thyme, several sprigs of flat leaf parsley, about a dozen whole peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, and add cold water and salt. My proportions are roughly three beef ribs to five quarts of water and three "palmfuls" of salt. Bring to boil, skim, and cook at a "smile" about three hours. Strain and cool. It usually tastes solid, and if I want to take the time it reduces nicely with a splash of wine in it. I don't do the extra step of removing the chilled fat unless it is "significant" enough that it would be distracting, being of the "fat is good" school.

            1. As Cook's Illustrated explained in detail some years ago, it takes a great deal of beef and bones to make stock - a far lower ratio of solids to water than is needed when making poultry stock.
              You should start with meaty bones rubbed with oil and roasted at until VERY deeply browned.

              Making beef stock is not cost-effective unless you have a non-commercial source of meat and bones. Most people settle for packaged stock or base. It can also be improved by combining it with poultry stock, especially if the latter is homemade. Turkey stock has a beefier flavor than chicken.

              3 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                Making beef stock is not cost-effective unless you have a non-commercial source of meat and bones.

                Not true. I can get a big bag of beef "soup bones" (approx. 5-7 lbs) from my supermarket butcher for $1.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  You're lucky. Here, the best price I've seen is over $1/pound.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    I'm glad you said this about buying stock already made. I just recently discovered that substituting boxed beef stock for my homemade chicken/turkey broth in several of my old soup recipes is being met with great praise. I was feeling weird to use something already made, but the one time I tried to make it myself it seemed like so much work that I'm not sure when I will get around to it again. So I "stocked" up on beef broth last time it was on sale. That and subbing Rotel anytime a small amount of chopped/diced tomato is called for are my two new ah-ha tricks.

              2. Oxtail is not good for stock, neither is shank.

                You want meaty bones with thick marrow (sometimes marketed as “soup bones” by butchers) mixed in with some cut up hooves, knuckles, or skull.

                I hope you reserved the oxtail and shank. They'd probably be mighty tasty with some soy sauce and chili paste.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  yet for some reason oxtail soup has the reputation of being one of the beefiest soups.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Not sure I would characterize oxtail soup as "beefiest" or even "beefy".

                    I think oxtail soup -- at least good oxtail soup -- tastes like oxtail blended in perfect harmony with your choice of aromatics, e.g. carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, celery, etc.