Balkan Summer Sausage Stew

A hearty summer sausage stew, a great way to use up the summer sausage that so often shows up in gift baskets. The stew is packed with late-summer and early-fall vegetables so even though the sausage itself is calorie-dense, a serving adds up to about 200 calories. So good, this! I especially love it with a dollop of sour cream on top with some good bread for dunking into the juices.

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew, another one-pot Quick Supper ♥, a small portion of flavor-packed summer sausage with zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes or turnips, a hearty, satisfying dinner.

Real Food, Fresh & Comforting. Another Quick Supper, a Kitchen Parade Specialty. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly.

A Love Letter to Fall

And if I may say so myself ... a lovely piece of writing. :-)

Fall’s light is one of amber glow, somewhere between the eye-wincing harshness of summer and the wind-braced gray of winter.

Fall’s food, in turn, lies somewhere between the garden-bright salads of summer and the braised-brown meats of winter.

With modern supermarkets bearing strawberries in January and June and cranberries in relationships with May and December, we too easily forget that food comes in seasons, that seasons come with food.

But fall? Fall knows.

Fall knows it’s the open stretch between the dog days of summer and the sundogs of winter skies. Fall remembers summer sweat even as it girds for winter chill.

Lustily, fall celebrates with the last of the tomatoes and the first of the apples, the last of the grill and the first of the gratins.

Fall, fall knows its place, its glorious amber-lit place.

And so does fall’s food, on plates, and in our hearts.

On My Mind ♥, thinking about sausage samples at Manitoba Sausage in Winnipeg

Let's Take a Deep Dive Into Sausage and Summer Sausage

They say it's a bad idea to watch sausage being made. But when I was a kid, my first-generation Canadian grandmother let me tag along to pick up sausages at Manitoba Sausage, a long-time Winnipeg institution. Her sister and husband (Auntie Katie & Uncle Charlie) owned the company and what I remember as a giant, messy, stinky sausage factory straight out of Dickens.

But samples were abundant! No wonder I tagged along ... the braunschweiger, the thuringer, the other German-style sausages.

But as an adult, I know to wonder.

What Is "Sausage" Anyway?

So first, let's take a look at what we know about plain sausage.

SAUSAGE IS A MEAT PRODUCT It's usually made from ground meat, often pork, beef and chicken plus salt, spices and flavorings. In my family, local butchers produce venison sausage from scraps of our deer meat; every butcher's product varies, over time you pick your favorite.

SOMETIMES SAUSAGE IS SOLD UNCOOKED & LOOSE Loose sausage has a texture like ground burger. Use it to make your own sausage patties or to tuck into lasagna, soup, etc.

BUT "A" SAUSAGE IS DIFFERENT When we refer to a distinct unit of "a" sausage, the meaning changes. The meat product is no longer loose. It usually means that the meat has been stuffed into some sort of casing to form a tube, some fat and some skinny, some short and some long. Stuffing sausage is easier to do than it might sound, easy enough for kids, in fact, see Homemade Swedish Potato Sausage.

SOME ARE "FRESH" SAUSAGES Some times, these individual sausages are uncooked. Think of them as "fresh" sausage that requires refrigeration and cooking. Think brats cooked on the grill or over a campfire.

BUT MANY SAUSAGES ARE NOT ONLY PRE-COOKED BUT PRESERVED These sausages are fully cooked and in fact, are preserved to last through a long winter, say. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying and smoking.

So What Then, Is "Summer" Sausage?

Ah, summer sausage.

The phrase summer sausage is a vague and wholly American term of art.

  • A sausage of a particular style or kind or identity
  • A sausage with a cultural heritage
  • A sausage with a special seasoning or shape or curing or ...
  • It's not even a sausage that's related to summer or hot weather!

  • Any sausage that's been preserved for storage without refrigeration
  • Frequently dense and highly spiced
  • A frequent find in those big ol' gift baskets filled with cheeses, crackers and condiments

What's Extra Cool About All Kinds of Sausage and Sausages

Sure, giant, industrial food companies produce mountains of sausage. Ever heard of Jimmy Dean or Hormel or Johnsonville or Oscar Meyer or Smithfield to name a few?

But sausage is a traditional food revered in many cultures and is still prepared by small producers following recipes and practices that have evolved and thrived over hundreds if not thousands of years.

it's really easy to step into an independent butcher shop and find a unique sausage, one made only right there on the spot.

It's really easy to go into an international grocery to discover dozens of different sausages sourced from all across the world.

LOCAL SAUSAGES Here in my home of St. Louis, the best-known stop for sausage is G&W Sausage and Meats. (It's a hoot. Don't be surprised when someone tosses you a cold beer from across the floor!) But every local butcher, every local game-meat processor, produces small batches of their own specialities.

INTERNATIONAL SAUSAGES To sample dozens of sausages from across the world, just hit up the deli at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood, Missouri. Don't know what to get? Ask for a sample!

If you have a favorite sausage producer, let me know in the comments, the company name and city name will help others, so will recommendations on your favorite sausages.

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew, another one-pot Quick Supper ♥, a small portion of flavor-packed summer sausage with zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes or turnips, a hearty, satisfying dinner.

What's In Balkan Summer Sausage Stew? (Mostly) Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

Summer Sausage Top a cracker with a slice of summer sausage and a sliver cheese from a gift basket. Sure, it's a tasty snack but after one or two or three bites of cracker, then what? For anyone wondering what to cook with one or two or even more logs of summer sausage, this stew really lets the sausage shine. It turns summer sausage into a meal.

Could you use a fresh (that is, uncooked) sausage? Sure. It'll need to be cooked though and fresh sausage aren't often as dense or densely spiced as summer sausages. But sure, if you have fresh sausage, go for it and then adjust for taste.

Vegetable Base The stew calls for onion, bell pepper and canned tomato, a flavorful mix of vegetables.

Seasonings Lots of flavor comes from the bacon or bacon grease. But after that, dried herbs come into play, marjoram, caraway and oregano plus salt and pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne for a touch of heat.

Potatoes or Turnips These vegetables add bulk and soak up the stew's strong flavors. Potatoes are starchier than turnips and have more calories and carbs.

Zucchini Tender summer squash is added near the end since it needs less cooking time. No mushy or over-cooked zucchini here!.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Balkan Summer Sausage Stew hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Balkan Summer Sausage Stew, another one-pot Quick Supper ♥, a small portion of flavor-packed summer sausage with zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes or turnips, a hearty, satisfying dinner.


Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 7 cups
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped (or 1 tablespoon bacon grease)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram (or thyme or sage)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes or 1 pound good tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 8 ounces summer sausage, skin removed, diced small
  • 2 medium potatoes, skins on, diced or 2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut in half moons
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Good bread, for dunking

In a broad, shallow braising pan or skillet, start the bacon on medium high. Add the onions and peppers as they're prepped, then the spices and bay leaf; cook until the onions begin to brown.

Stir in the tomatoes and water, bring to a boil.

Add the summer sausage and potatoes, return to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the potatoes are nearly done.

Arrange the zucchini pieces on top, cover and let simmer until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Serve in bowls with dollops of sour cream and good bread for dipping.

ALANNA's TIPS This is a great recipe to use up the summer sausage (or other well-spiced fully cooked sausages) that so often show up in gift baskets. The recipe calls for eight ounces but I've made it with six ounces, the extra's not missed in the least. If the sausage itself is quite spicy, you'll want to dial back the red pepper flakes. There's quite a bit of potato and zucchini to balance the spices, but still. Like many stews, Balkan Summer Sausage Stew’s flavors meld when the stew is cooked one day and served the next, it makes for great leftovers. But it is also good the first day when the potatoes and zucchini are still distinct and firm and fresh, that's the way I prefer serving it, fresh off the stove. For many years, I made this stew in a Dutch oven, all jumbled up in a typical messy stew. But for a dramatic appearance? A shallow skillet really shows off the architecture of the zucchini half moons. Bulk up the volume with little calorie consequence by adding extra onion, pepper and tomato – or try okra, sweet corn and tomatillos too! Low carb eaters, substitute turnips for the potatoes, very good!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 219 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 5g Sat Fat; 25mg Cholesterol; 543mg Sodium; 21g Carb; 3g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 9g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 5 & SmartPoints 8 & Freestyle 6 & myWW green 6 & blue 6 & purple 5

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2006, 2007, 2015 (repub) & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/16/2007

    I love sausage dishes, but this is the first I've seen calling for summer sausage. I'll put it on my list.


  2. Anonymous7/16/2007

    I also love sausage and this looks perfect for Autumn meals!


  3. Anonymous7/16/2007

    Summer Sausages included wth both Holiday gift baskets. Not too fond of them cold, so came to the internet to search for recipes. This sounds great. Will prepare soon.


  4. Sandy from Canada10/29/2015

    I really enjoy your emails, Alanna and keep them coming.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna