Spicy Sausage Borscht

It has been bitter cold here this week.  On the coldest day I decided to "beet" the chill by making this spicy Borscht.  I had made this version a couple of years ago and had remembered it fondly ever since.  Usually I am a big fan of a meat free Borscht, of which there are a zillion recipe variations.  But this one fit the bill exactly when it was 9 degrees out with 25 mph winds.  Brrrrrrrr!  I have always made it with hot Italian sausage but there are other options listed below if you would rather make a more mellow version.  This is from the Joy of Gardening Cookbook by Janet Ballantyne.


  • 3/4 pound hot Italian sausage (casing removed if it comes that way), 3/4 pound ground beef, or 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups diced raw beets
  • 4 cups peeled and chopped plum tomatoes, or thick tomato puree
  • 4 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups finely chopped cabbage

In a large soup pot, brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon.  Drain off all but 3 tablespoons of fat.  (I didn't need to drain any off with the sausage that I used.)  Saute the onion and garlic in the fat until limp, 3-5 minutes.  Add the beets, tomatoes, water, wine, lemon juice, brown sugar, and seasonings.  Simmer the soup for about 1 hour.  Add more water if needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the cabbage.  Remove the bay leaves and serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Yield: 6-8 servings