Image by Crystal Jo


Waterzooi is undoubtedly one of Belgium's most beloved dishes. It originally hails from the West Flanders region and is a classic stew of sorts that features succulent chunks of chicken or fish, surrounded with an abundance of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, leeks and onions. Its signature ingredient, however, is undoubtedly its creamy broth. Combining broth, cream and eggs to form a velvety-textured sauce, this unique mixture allows Waterzooi to stand out among other stews.


The origins of Waterzooi are steeped in history and legend. Some sources point to the 11th century as the time of its creation. Back then, it was known as Watercokken, which means 'to cook in water'. Legend has it that this dish was invented by a Dutch peasant family living near the city of Bruges. The family sought to stretch their limited ingredients, and create a soup-like dish that could be enjoyed by the entire household. This hearty combination eventually evolved into the delicious Waterzooi we all know and love today.

What makes Waterzooi particularly interesting is the wide range of variations it can come in. While its traditional form features a combination of chicken, vegetables, and broth, there are also versions made with fish, such as cod or pollock. Additionally, there are even vegetarian versions, usually featuring mushrooms or tofu. The richness of options offered by Waterzooi make it appealing for just about any palate.

No discussion of Waterzooi would be complete without mentioning the two sauces that typically accompany it: Garnaalkroketten (shrimp croquettes) and Tartar sauce. These two sauces bring out the flavor of Waterzooi's ingredients, while also adding a bit of zestiness to the dish, making it even more enjoyable.

Unquestionably, Waterzooi is an essential part of Belgian cuisine and culture. Its popularity dates back several centuries, and its unique flavors, creamy texture, and versatility make it a favorite among food lovers across the globe. There's really no better way to sample a taste of Belgian culture than by savoring the wonders of Waterzooi.

The origin of Waterzooi

Waterzooi, that delightful Flemish classic, is an interesting dish with origins steeped in a centuries-old narrative of flavor and culture. Many believe this notable stew-like dish hails from the city of Ghent in Belgium, but its story began long before that.

Though the exact beginnings are hazy, it's said Waterzooi originated in the kitchens of the Low Countries (modern day Netherlands and Belgium) in the Middle Ages. It was a simple peasant meal prepared with whatever ingredients were on-hand; typically, a fish or chicken, vegetables, and cream. As time progressed, the recipe changed, with each region putting its own spin on the dish.

In the late 19th century, Waterzooi became a favorite of the upper classes in Ghent. Residents quickly adopted the Flemish dish as their own, elevating the peasant fare to gourmet status with the addition of refined ingredients such as butter, cognac, and herbs. It soon became a beloved national dish, renowned for its hearty yet delicate flavor.

Since then, Waterzooi has become a staple in Belgian culinary culture. It can be found on the menus of restaurants throughout the country - a testament to its staying power and ubiquity over the years.

Though the exact history of Waterzooi remains unknown, it's clear the dish has evolved from earthy roots to a beloved regional delicacy. Its lasting popularity is one of the many reasons it is so cherished by locals and visitors alike.

FAQs about Waterzooi

What does waterzooi mean in English?

Waterzooi is a traditional Belgian stew or soup made from fish or chicken simmered in a broth of vegetables, herbs, butter, and cream. It is usually served with boiled potatoes on the side.

What is chicken waterzooi made of?

Chicken waterzooi is a traditional Belgian stew made of chicken, vegetables (typically potatoes, carrots, celery, and leeks), herbs, and a creamy broth made from white wine, butter, and flour.

When was waterzooi invented?

Waterzooi is believed to have originated in Belgium sometime in the 17th century.

Who owns Waterzooi?

The Waterzooi restaurant chain is owned and operated by the Sicré Family of Belgium.

Types of Waterzooi

Ah, Waterzooi, a dish that instantly invokes feelings of comfort and warmth in many people's hearts. This beloved stew has been around since the Middle Ages and is still enjoyed in modern times. What makes it so special? Well, it varies depending on where you're from and what type of Waterzooi you get. From Flemish to French to Belgian, each version of this savory stew offers something different and delightful.

The Flemish variation of this dish involves a creamy, white sauce made with butter, eggs, and flour, cooked with either chicken or fish, and sometimes vegetables as well. This type is generally served with potatoes or rice, and is considered to be the classic version of Waterzooi. The French version, on the other hand, has a more subtle flavor. It often consists of white wine, butter, herbs, and vegetables, and is served with either potatoes or rice. The Belgian version doesn't include a white sauce, but instead relies on vegetables, as well as salt, pepper, and spices like nutmeg. It also typically includes fish or chicken and is served with either potatoes or rice.

Each version of Waterzooi is unique in its own way and can be a delicious addition to any meal. But there are other variations of this beloved dish that may surprise even the most experienced foodie. One version, known as kippenwaterzooi, uses chicken instead of fish or vegetables, and adds ingredients like onions, garlic, celery, and carrots to the mix. Another variation, known as viswaterzooi, uses fish instead of chicken and typically contains leeks, carrots, and celery as well.

Whatever type of Waterzooi you choose, it's sure to be a scrumptious dish that will please a crowd of all ages. Whether it's served with some potatoes or a side of rice, or just enjoyed by itself, Waterzooi will fill you up and boost your happiness level. So, make sure to give this ancient stew a try and discover why it has been around for centuries!