If you enjoy soup/stew that’s hearty, comforting and not that difficult to prepare, make chicken waterzooi.
Waterzooi, pronounced VAH-ter-zoy, is a Belgian dish that was first cooked centuries ago in that country’s Flemish region, also called Flanders. Waterzooi is derived from the Middle Dutch “zooien,” which means “to boil,” a reference to how it’s cooked.
Waterzooi was originally — and still is — made with fish, but over time, as chicken became a more available source of protein, it became a popular ingredient to use in the dish.
When reviewing numerous recipes for chicken waterzooi, none seemed exactly the same, with every cook presenting a slightly different way to prepare it. But most recipes saw bone-in or boneless pieces of chicken simmered, and combined with a mix of vegetables, such as leeks, carrots and celery, in a soup-stew-like mixture thickened and enriched with egg yolks and cream.
My version of the dish uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The result was a pleasing winter meal that I served with boiled potatoes and crusty bread.
This hearty, comforting, Belgian-style stew is rich with chicken and a mix of vegetables. Serve it with boiled potatoes and crusty bread.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: about 50 minutes
Makes: three servings
4 cups chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 575 grams)
2 Tbsp butter
1 medium to large leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, washed, dried and diced (see Note)
1/2 cup diced onion
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium celery stalks, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream
• salt and ground white pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Place chicken stock into a six-inch-or-so-wide pot and add the chicken thighs. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Lower the heat, as needed, to maintain that gentle simmer. Gently simmer chicken thighs until cooked and tender, about 25 minutes.
Lift chicken thighs out of the pot, set on a plate and let cool. Reserve the leftover stock.
Set an eight-inch-or-so-wide pot over medium, medium-high heat and add the butter. When butter is melted, add the leeks, onion, carrots and celery. Cook and stir vegetables until softened, five to six minutes. Pour in the reserved stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Lower the heat, as needed, to maintain that gentle simmer. Simmer vegetables 10 minutes.
While vegetables simmer, cut the cooked chicken thighs into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes/pieces. Also place the egg yolk, cornstarch and cream in a bowl and whisk well to combine.
When vegetables have simmered 10 minutes, add the chicken and the cream mixture, stir to combine, return to a simmer, and simmer one to two minutes, or until the waterzooi thickens. Mix in the parsley, taste and season waterzooi with salt and pepper, and serve.
Note: Diced in this recipe means to cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.