Eating canal side

My first encounter with Waterzooi was in Gent. I was sitting beside my sweetie on a terrace overlooking a water canal and enjoying a nice glass of wine coupled with my stew during a warm summer evening. Waterzooi is centuries old soup/stew that originated in Gent. In the beginning, it was prepared with fish that were plentiful in the city’s network of rivers and canals.

Gent water canals with restaurants all around to enjoy

Now, Waterzooi is often made with either fish or chicken. Both are delicious, but for this post I choose chicken because it is cozier for the “brisk” weather I have been hearing about in Alberta… a chilly -30 degrees celsius!

The recipe makes a BIG pot so invite some friends and family over for a fun, not fussy, dinner party. Maybe someone will bring over a loaf of homemade bread to soak up the last drop of stew? hint hint…

Chicken Waterzooi adapted from The Food and Cooking of Belgium

1 free-range (farm fresh) chicken about 1.6kgs/3.5lbs
Chicken stock, to cover the meat (see instructions)
a couple of dashes of Thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cardamom seed
a couple of dashes of ground pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
40g/3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
3-4 medium potatoes, sliced
2 egg yolks
200ml/scant 1 cup of heavy cream
salt and ground black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
handful of fresh parsley, chopped to garnish


1. Rinse the chicken and trim off any excess fat. Place the whole bird in a large pot and pour over chicken stock to two-thirds cover. Add thyme, bay leaves, pepper, and crushed garlic. Bring to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1.5 hours or until the chicken is cook and the meat begins to fall from the bones.

mmm chicken!

3. Lift the chicken out of pot. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, take the meat off the bones and cut into bite-size pieces. Put these in a bowl, cover, and set aside. Skim the fat from the surface of the stock, the pour it into a large jug (or bowl) and set aside.

sautéed veggies

4. Pour the vegetable oil into a clean, deep pan. Add all of the vegetables except the potatoes and fry over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Pour in the reserved stock and the potatoes, bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

5. Mix the egg yolks and cream in a bowl. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually stir the cream mixture into the soup/stew. Add the chicken pieces. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes until thickened. Do not let it boil!

6. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add lemon juice if you like; I prefer to cut up a fresh lemon to let the person eating decide. Ladle into bowl, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Not to brag or anything, but I think this is one of the best dishes I have ever made. I couldn’t be happier about how it turned out 😀 I would definitely make a batch on the weekend to have in the fridge during the week for a warm, yummy lunch or supper. It’s perfect for those on the fly or those who are just feeling lazy.

Waterzooi = Brain food for studying!


3 thoughts on “Waterzooooooi!

  1. That looks one happy guy in front of his jummy homemade waterzooi! Impressive meredith! Not a lot of belgians start a challenge like this of making their own waterzooi. Congratz

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