I was born in my mother’s beautiful city of Ghent, in the Flanders’ region of Belgium. This is the city that invented the Waterzooi, an amazing soup made with vegetables and chicken. Waterzooi derives from the Flemish term “zooien” which means “to boil” and “water” which, as you guessed, means “water”.
Everybody has a slight different way of preparing it. I follow my mother’s recipe. It is delicious, can be frozen in single portions, it is hearty but still light especially if you skip the optional creamy sauce. It is a perfect dish for entertaining, as it can be prepared in advance. It is served in soup dishes.
Ingredients you will need for 6 to 8 servings:
• 8 pieces of chicken without the skin. I usually use chicken breasts, drumsticks and thighs because everybody likes something different
• 6-8 cups of commercially prepared low salt or no salt chicken broth
• 2-3 cups of water, for extra liquid if you want
• 3 celery stalks, without the leaves, peeled and cut into 1 and ½ inch sticks
• 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced into 1 and ½ inch cubes
• 2 to 3 large leeks (only the white and the very pale green parts, very well rinsed) – cut 1 and ½ inch sticks
• 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1 and ½ inch cubes.
• 1 large onion minced
• 4 shallots minced
• 1 sprig parsley
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 2 bay leaves
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tbsps. butter and 2 tbsps. olive oil to brown the chicken
• Optional for the creamy mixture: 3 egg yolks, 1 cup cream,2 lemons, juiced
To cook the chicken:
• In a large pan, cook the minced onion and shallots with oil and butter on medium heat. When golden, add the chicken pieces and just brown the pieces a little bit. It will add an extra “je ne sais quoi” to the preparation. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
• Once slightly browned, cover the chicken with the chicken stock. Add the parsley, the fresh thyme and the bay leaves. Let simmer on medium heat for approximately one hour.
• After about 30 min, add the carrots and celery, and after about 45mn, add the potatoes and leeks, as they will cook more rapidly.
Optional creamy sauce. It will add a velvety and somewhat tart taste to the soup:
• You can serve the dish as is or prepare and add the creamy sauce to the hot stock when everything is cooked.
• The creamy sauce is challenging to prepare, as you do not want the egg yolks to curdle when mixed with the hot stock.
• So, in a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the cream and spoon by spoon, start to add the hot stock, then again, spoon by spoon add the lemon juice. Once this is done, you should not worry about scrambling the eggs anymore.
• You can either add the creamy mixture to the entire soup and serve as is or offer the creamy mixture in a side bowl and let your guests decide if they want the sauce or not.