OK, this recipe is VERY loosey-goosey, and you can riff on it as you like. Here is what we did:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 pieces of oxtail
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup sweet vermouth (or any wine)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 4 oz. can tomato paste
4 (or more) cups of water
1-2 cup lima beans (we used the fresh, refrigerated kind - frozen would be fine as well)
4 carrots, chopped
1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
1-2 cups fresh green beans, chopped
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 cup leftover bordelaise or gravy (optional)
1 can baby peas (frozen is fine too)
1 cup pearl barley
tabasco, salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Add garlic and quickly saute. Do not let it brown. Add the oxtail and brown on all sides. Be careful not to scorch the garlic. Add the sliced yellow onion, broth and wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and water. You can add more water as needed throughout.
Let simmer for 2-3 hours.
Add lima beans, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans and squash.
Let cook another hour or two.
Add leftover gravy or Bordelaise if using. At this point, you can refrigerate the soup overnight.
About an hour before serving, heat the soup and add a can of peas and a cup of pearl barley. Add more water if the soup is too thick. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco.
Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.