All pictures on this page were borrowed from the internet.

This is a traditional Flemish recipe that originated in the City of Ghent, Belgium.  It is possibly the most complex recipe in this website. If you stick to the recipe, you will need several hours to prepare this. You have to cook an elaborate vegetable stock first, which is then used to cook the chicken in. The original recipe is available in Dutch on THIS PAGE.   

This recipe can also be made with fish instead of poultry.


Pic1-3: chicken waterzooi



This is what you need for 4 servings:

the vegetable stock:

  • 4 thick carrots
  • 6 celery stalks
  • 4 medium onions
  • 4 leek stalks


  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 branch thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley with stems
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt (to taste)
  • 4 qts of water (at least)

the waterzooi:

  • 1 chicken
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 leek
  • 3 carrots
  • 6 small potatoes
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 2 eggs yolks
  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • butter
  • 2.5 qts vegetable stock (see above)



A. Make a vegetable chicken stock. (2.5 hrs)

  •  Heat 4 qts of water in a large stock pot.
  • Cut and slice the vegetables in pieces.
  • Add the vegetables and spices to the stock pot.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer on low heat for 1 ½ - 2 hrs.
  • Cut the chicken. (breasts, halved legs, carcass)
  • Add the chicken and simmer 20 min
  • Remove the chicken, set aside to cool.
  • Remove the skin.
  • Cut the breast in smaller pieces.
  • Optionally debone the legs.
  • Separate the stock by pouring everything through a sieve.
  • Reserve the liquid. Discard the solids.

B. Make the waterzooi:

  • Wash the vegetables and cut them in very narrow strips. (au julienne)
  • briefly stew the vegetables (thin-cut carrots, potatoes, leek) in butter.
  • Add the chicken pieces to vegetables. Do not include the carcass.
  • Add 2.5 qts of clear vegetable bouillon,
  • Bring to boil and simmer 30 min.
  •  Stir in the cream and if necessary bind with the egg yolk.
  • Serve with French bread and enjoy.

I've made this once out of Flemish-Belgian pride. I think it is excessive elaboration; eye candy for restaurant chefs a.o. culinary professionals. It looks great in the pictures, but it's really not that exceptional. This is after all basically a chicken & vegetable soup with some extra cream.

I think this would be a waste of your time and effort at home, especially if you have to look after a few kids while you're trying to put food on the table. It is imo way too complicated in ingredients and preparation method for the average household.

You can easily enough adapt this to your (and my) home situation. The following will give you a good imitation in less than a quarter of the time: