gentse waterzooi
Soup & Stew

Gentse waterzooi: Belgian chunky chicken stew

This recipe for tender anddelicious chicken soup is a Belgian legend. It warms the soul and heart and serves as a light supper or lunch. It is rich in healthy ingredients. You will love this signature chicken dish. 

History of Belgian waterzooi

Waterzooi is a traditional Flemish soup. The Dutch word comes from zooien, which means to cook. It is believed to have come from the city of Ghent, as the name implies. This Ghent-style chicken soup is healthy choice for busy nights and when children are sick. 

Originally Belgian waterzooi soup was made from fish, freshwater or sea fish. Today, chicken is a well-known meat and is readily available. The reason this dish changes over time is because the rivers in Ghent are so polluted that the fish have disappeared. 


Discover more: The Top 11 Belgian food you did not know about yet

Tip for super tender chicken meat

For chicken, especially tender, use 1.5 kg (3 lb) of chicken legs instead of chicken breast. Leg meat is the most sensitive part of the whole chicken. After cooking, take the legs out carefully, as the meat will practically fall off the bone.

Typically, this stew can be made with burbot fish such as chicken, carrots, onions, potatoes, herbs, eggs, cream and butter. It is usually served as a soup or stew with a baguette to soak up the liquid.

Try our Belgian chicken soup recipe. If you want to try something different, how about a Burgundy Chicken Casserole Recipe?

Ghentse waterzooi chicken soup

Belgian creamy chicken soup (Gentse waterzooi)

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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins


  • Potatoe peeler
  • Big cooking pot
  • Knive


  • 1 chicken large, around 3 pounds
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 onion white
  • 2 carrots big
  • 2 twigs celery
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 mixed sachet of herbs from laurel thyme and parsley stems
  • 1 cup rich cream (200 ml)
  • fresh chervil
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon juice

For the julienne garnish:

  • 4 carrots
  • 2 leek proteins
  • ½ fennel


  • Wash the chicken and put the chicken in a large pan.
  • Stick the cloves into the peeled onion and place the onion into the pan without cutting it.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables, roughly chopped and fill the pot with water until everything is well covered.
  • Sprinkle some salt into the water and add the sachet of herbs.
  • When everything comes to the boil, let it cook on high heat for around 15 Minutes. Skim off the foam from the surface and set the heat to low heat.
  • Peel the potatoes with a peeler. Cut the peeled potatoes into cubes and add to the pot after 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cut the vegetables for the garnish into julienne (very thin stripes). Use your food processor or your grater.
  • After 60 minutes remove the chicken from the pan and strain the cooking liquid.
  • Bring to the boil again and add the vegetables julienne.
  • Finally add the rich cream, cut the chicken into pieces and put it back in the pan to warm it up well.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Serve the Belgian chicken soup in deep plates and decorate with some chervil.
  • Serve with potatoes or freshly baked bread.


You can vary the vegetables used.

Hi, I am Susanne. Good food, history and traveling are my passion. I write about it whenever I can. Thanks for reading this article.

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